At the dawn of the nineteenth century in Portugal, John Zarco Stewart is an impish child of hotheaded emotions and playful inquisitiveness, the unwitting inheritor of a faith shrouded in three hundred years of secrecy–for the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula have been in hiding since the Inquisition. But a season of loss and bitter discovery brings his innocence to an abrupt end. It is only the ministrations of a magical stranger, brought to Porto by his seafaring father, that restore his safety: Midnight, an African healer and freed slave, the man who will become John’s greatest friend and determine the course of his destiny.

When Napoleon’s armies invade Portugal, violence again intrudes on John’s fragile peace, and seals his passage into adulthood with another devastating loss. But from the wreckage comes revelation as he uncovers truths and lies hidden by the people he loved and trusted most, and discovers the act of unspeakable betrayal that destroyed his family–and his faith. And so his shattering quest begins as he travels to America, to hunt for hope in a land shackled by unforgivable sin.


Richard Zimler was born in New York and has lived in Portugal for the past 30 years. His award-winning novels have been bestsellers in a dozen countries, beginning with THE LAST KABBALIST OF LISBON (Overlook, 1998), which has sold over 400,000 copies worldwide.  He is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times Book Review.