I'm trying to identify a story I read a while ago (probably about 10 years ago, but I am not certain).

The plot revolves around a Jewish myth about 36 hidden saints who keep the world alive. The bad guy(s) manage to identify them via GPS coordinates hidden in a scroll and begin killing them. I think they want to invoke the Apocalypse and the second coming or something like that.

The good guys include an ex-Hasidic girl called CD who goes undercover back into the community after they have kicked her out, and another man. He runs into trouble when he tries to infiltrate a Hasidic sect and claims to have met the rabbi but doesn't realize that the rabbi in charge has actually been dead for years whilst his followers believe him to be alive.

I don't fully remember the end, but it involves the last of the 36 being an unborn child.


2 Answers 2


I knew this was a fairly common story, so looked up the term for it. Found there is a TV Tropes page for Tzadikim Nistarim (36 righteous men). On there, found this:

Sam Bourne's book The Righteous Men is centred around a plot to kill the Tzadikim Nistarim and thus end the world.

No modern examples of the 36 exhibited mystic powers, but they each help out their fellow human beings, from one performing individual acts of kindness to neighbours, to another who blackmarkets a medication for HIV that will help millions around the world.

Sometimes some subconsciously try to obscure their altruistic nature so much that they are often criminals due to fate or in their attempts to help others. One member of the 36 did become aware of his nature, and did not die instantly however. Additionally one member of the 36 at a time is determined to be the Messiah if the End of Days occurs while he is alive, and a particularly spiritual and pure Righteous Man will attract others to him, and even be able to recognise his fellows.

Members of the 36 mentioned include a pimp who sold all his belongings to save a woman from entering prostitution, a medieval pimp who could pray for rain, a teenage hacker who invents a virus that will eventually destroy all child pornography on the internet, and a simple nurse in Africa who saves war refugees

Also, an Amazon review had this:

In addition to a really complex mystery was the fascinating world of the Hasidic community, including the customs, practices and history of the Jewish faith.

Goodreads summary mentions the main character's ex, TC.

Desperate to find the link between the killings and to save his wife, he enlists his college sweetheart, TC, an eccentric artist and Kabbalah expert.

One review on Goodreads mentioned a pregnant woman.

The sense of urgency was a bit difficult -- for some people in the story, it was the end of the world; for the sceptical reader, and for the main character, it was "just" one woman and her unborn child.

  • This is it, must have got the initials of the girlfriend wrong, but definitely this novel. Thanks Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 15:57
  • 7
    It's worth noting that you only need to kill one of them to end the world.
    – Mystagogue
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 19:13

Could this be The Last Good Man by A.J. Kazinski?

In Jewish scripture, there is a legend: There are thirty-six righteous people on earth. The thirty-six protect us. Without them, humanity would perish. But the thirty-six do not know they are the chosen ones.

In Beijing, a monk collapses in his chamber, dead. A fiery mark—a tattoo? a burn?—spreads across his back and down his spine. In Mumbai, a beloved economist, a man who served the poor, dies suddenly. His corpse reveals the same symbol. Similar deaths are reported around the world—the victims all humanitarians, all with the same death mark. In Venice, an enterprising Italian policeman links the deaths, tracing the evidence. Who is killing good people around the world?

In Copenhagen, police are preparing for a world climate summit when they receive the Interpol alert. The task falls to veteran detective Niels Bentzon: Find the “good people” of Denmark and warn them. But Bentzon is a man who is trained to see the worst in humanity, not the good. One by one, people are crossed off his list. He senses their secrets and wrongdoings.

Just as Bentzon is ready to give up, he meets Hannah Lund, a brilliant astrophysicist mourning the death of her son and the implosion of her marriage. With Hannah’s help, Bentzon begins to piece together the puzzle of these far-flung deaths. A pattern emerges. It is, they realize, a perfectly executed plan of murder. There have been thirty-four deaths—two more to come if the legend is true. According to the pattern, Bentzon and Hannah can predict the time and place of the final two murders. The deaths will occur in Venice and Copenhagen. And the time is now.

You may wish to note that there are a bunch of different novels dealing with the concept of the Tzadikim Nistarim (36 "hidden" saints).


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