Bestseller Saul (Suffer the Children) links an exorcism of the devil with a plot to kill the pope in this over-the-top religious thriller. When thugs at a Boston public high school savagely beat 16-year-old Ryan McIntyre, who's struggling with the death of his father in Iraq, Ryan's mother transfers him to a Catholic school. At St. Isaac's Preparatory Academy, where a student's disappearance and other bizarre events have caused worry, a popular priest, Father Sebastian, takes a special interest in the newcomer. When word reaches the Vatican that Sebastian may have revived a long-lost rite to invoke the primitive evil latent even in the most innocent, the supreme pontiff himself plans a visit to St. Isaac's. Those looking for a more subtle treatment of a similar theme might prefer Whitley Strieber's The Night Church, but Saul fans should be satisfied. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Devil's Labyrinthby John Saul, Jim Bond
An Exorcist Reverses the Mysterious Art—Summoning Evil Instead of Driving It Out
After his father's untimely death sends fifteen-year-old Ryan McIntyre into an emotional tailspin, his mother enrolls him in St. Isaac's Catholic boarding school, hoping the venerable institution with a reputation for transforming wayward teens can work its magic. But/p>/b>… See more details below
An Exorcist Reverses the Mysterious Art—Summoning Evil Instead of Driving It Out
After his father's untimely death sends fifteen-year-old Ryan McIntyre into an emotional tailspin, his mother enrolls him in St. Isaac's Catholic boarding school, hoping the venerable institution with a reputation for transforming wayward teens can work its magic. But troubles are not unknown even at St. Isaac, where Ryan arrives to find the school awash in news of one student's violent death, another's mysterious disappearance, and growing incidents of disturbing behavior within the hallowed halls.
Things begin to change when Father Sebastian joins the faculty. The young priest has been dispatched on an extraordinary and controversial mission: to prove the power of one of the Church's most arcane sacred rituals, exorcism. Willing or not, St. Isaac's most troubled students will be pawns in Father Sebastian's one-man war against evil—a war so surprisingly effective that the pope himself takes notice.
But Ryan sees—and knows—otherwise. As he witness with mounting dread the transformations of his fellow pupils, his certainty grows that forces of darkness, not divinity, are at work. Evil is not being cast out...something else is being called forth. Something that hasn't stirred since the Inquisition's reign of terror. Something nurtured through the ages to do its vengeful masters' unholy bidding. Something whose hour has finally come to bring hell unto earth.
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Meet the Author
House of Reckoning is John Saul’s thirty-sixth novel. His first novel, Suffer the Children, published in 1977, was an immediate million-copy bestseller. His other bestselling suspense novels include In the Dark of the Night, Perfect Nightmare, Black Creek Crossing, Midnight Voices, The Manhattan Hunt Club, The Right Hand of Evil, Guardian, and Faces of Fear. Saul divides his time between Seattle, Washington, and Hawaii.
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Read an Excerpt
Ryan McIntyre picked up his cereal bowl, held it to his lips, drank down the last of the sweetened milk exactly the way he had for at least the last fourteen of his sixteen years, and pretended he didn’t notice his mother’s disapproving look. With a glance at the clock, he stuffed the last half of his third slice of buttered toast into his mouth then stood up and picked up his empty bowl and plate. He had just enough time to grab his books and get to the bus stop.
“Do you have any plans for after school today?” his mother asked.
Her tone instantly put Ryan on his guard. “Why?” he countered, as he put the dishes in the sink.
“Because we’re going out to dinner tonight, and I’d like you to be home by five-thirty.”
Ryan’s eyes narrowed, and he felt his day cloud over. But maybe he was wrong. “Out to dinner?” he echoed, turning to face his mother. “Just us?”
Teri McIntyre turned to meet her son’s eyes. “With Tom,” she said. “He’s taking us both out to dinner, and I’d like you to be home by five-thirty. Okay?” There was a tone to her final word that betrayed the knowledge that she knew it was not okay with Ryan at all. His next words confirmed that knowledge.
“I don’t want to go to dinner with Tom Kelly,” Ryan said, instantly hating the whiny quality he heard in his own voice. He took a deep breath and started over. “I don’t like that he’s always around. It’s like he’s trying to move in on you.”
“He’s not moving in on me,” Teri said, her eyes pleading with her son as much as her voice. “He’s just helping us through what is a very difficult time.”
“He’s helping you through your difficult time,” Ryan shot back in a tone that made his mother flinch.
“He’d like to help you, too,” Teri said, her eyes glistening.
“I don’t need his help.” Ryan moved toward the stairs. “And I don’t need anybody trying to replace Dad, either.”
“He’s not trying to replace your father, Ryan,” Teri said, her voice quivering. “Nobody could.”
His mother’s words burning in his head, Ryan ran up the stairs to his room. Damn right no one could replace his father, and especially not Tom Kelly, who seemed to be at their house all the time now, trying to be nice.
As Ryan scooped his books off his desk and dumped them in his backpack, his eyes caught on the picture of his father that always sat right next to the desk lamp, and he paused.
Something in his father’s gaze seemed almost to be speaking to him. Grow up, his father seemed to be saying. You’re sixteen years old and you’re still sucking your milk from your bowl like a two-year-old. It’s time to be a man.
His backpack clutched in his right hand, Ryan stood perfectly still, feeling his father’s eyes boring into him.
Grow up. And be fair.
Be fair. The words his father had spoken more than any others. Ryan sighed, giving in to his father’s silent command. If he was going to be totally fair, Tom Kelly wasn’t really all that bad. In fact, he’d been a lot of help to his mother over the past six months. When the car had broken down, Tom had fixed it. When the roof had leaked, Tom had known who to call and made sure his mother didn’t get cheated. And when the basement had flooded, Tom had helped move things upstairs then helped clean the place up again, and never said a word about the fact that Ryan had managed to avoid speaking to him through the whole long day.
Still, nobody could replace his dad.
It had been two years since his father’s deployment and less than two years since an Iraqi roadside bomb had taken out the Humvee his father had been in. When he wasn’t actually looking at his father’s image, Ryan was finding it increasingly hard to remember exactly what his father’s face looked like. But right now he was staring at that image, and he could see very clearly exactly what Captain William James McIntyre was expecting from his son.
He sank down on his bed and thought about going to dinner with his mom and Tom Kelly.
His mom kept saying that her liking Tom Kelly had nothing to do with her love for his father, but Ryan was very certain that wasn’t quite true. And despite his own determination to keep his father’s place open in this house—in this family—his mother might just try to fill that place with someone else.
But what if it all turned out to be a horrible mistake? What if one of these days his father walked through the front door yelling, “Honey, I’m home!”
But then, as Ryan gazed at the portrait again, he remembered what his dad said to him the day he left for Iraq. “You’re the man of the house now, Ryan, so take good care of your mother. I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone, but I know this is going to be harder on her than it is for me. So you be there for her, okay?”
Ryan had nodded. They’d hugged. Then his father was gone.
But his words were still there in Ryan’s mind, as fresh as the day he’d spoken them. You be there for her.
His eyes shifting from his father’s image to the mirror over his bureau, Ryan stared at his own sullen reflection.
Not good enough, he told himself. Then he repeated his father’s words one more time. Be there for her. And be fair.
Grabbing his backpack, he ran down the stairs. His mother was still sitting at the kitchen table, cradling her coffee in both hands.
“I’ll be home by five-thirty,” Ryan said, and kissed her on the cheek.
The smile that came over her face told him that whatever he himself thought, he’d done exactly what his father would have wanted him to do. Kissing her one more time, just for good measure, he dashed out the front door just as the bus was pulling up to the stop at the corner. Okay, Dad, he thought. I did the right thing. Now make the bus driver wait for me!
But even as he broke into a run, he saw the bus doors close and watched helplessly as it pulled away.
The peeling walls of the second-floor classroom of Dickinson High School’s main building felt like they were closing in on Ryan, and directly behind him he could almost feel Frankie Alito trying to get a peek over his shoulder at the history test the class was working on. Ryan stiffened, knowing Alito was expecting him to slump just low enough at his desk to give the other boy a clear view of his answers, and as he thought about what Alito and his friends might do to him after school if he refused to let Frankie cheat, he felt himself starting to ease his body downward. But just before Alito could get a clear look, Ryan heard his father’s voice echoing in his head:
It’s time to be a man.
Instantly, Ryan sat straight up, determined that for once Alito could pass or fail on his own.
Then he felt the poke in his back. He ignored it, not shifting even a fraction of an inch in his seat.
Another poke with what felt like Alito’s pen, harder this time. Ryan kept his eyes focused on the test in front of him, but shrugged his shoulder away from Alito’s pen point.
“Gimme a look, geek,” Frankie whispered, punctuating the last word with another, harder jab.
“No way,” Ryan muttered, straightening even further in his chair and hunching over his paper, trying to stay out of Frankie’s reach. He glanced up at the teacher, but Mr. Thomas was busy at his desk, a stack of papers in front of him.
“Last chance,” Alito said, and Ryan felt another poke. But this time it was down low, just above his belt.
This time it wasn’t a pen point.
And this time his body reacted reflexively. Ryan twisted around just in time to see the flash of a blade.
The kind and size of blade that meant business.
“Now!” Alito hissed, jabbing the point of the knife hard enough to make Ryan jump.
Ryan yelped as the point dug into him and the teacher’s head snapped up.
“Something wrong, McIntyre?” Mr. Thomas asked from the front of the room.
Suddenly every eye in the classroom was on Ryan.
“No, sir,” Ryan said. “Sorry.”
Mr. Thomas stood up and came around his desk.
“Really,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t anything.”
The teacher advanced down the aisle, his eyes never leaving Frankie Alito, and came to a stop next to Ryan.
“Really, it was nothing, Mr. Thomas,” Ryan said, praying that Alito had at least been smart enough to slip the knife back in his pocket.
“Both hands on your desk, Alito,” Thomas commanded. Ryan kept facing directly forward, not wanting to see what was going to happen next.
“What’s that?” He heard Mr. Thomas ask.
“Nuthin’,” Alito answered.
“Hand it over,” the teacher said.
Ryan could almost see Frankie Alito glowering, but then the teacher spoke one more word, snapping it out with enough force that Ryan jumped.
The tension in the classroom grew as Alito hesitated, but when Mr. Thomas’s gaze never wavered, he finally broke and passed the switchblade to him.
“Thank you,” Thomas said softly. “And now you will go down to the office, where you will wait for me. I’ll be there at the end of the period, and you will be out of school for the rest of the year, even if we decide not to press charges, which I can assure you we won’t. You’re through, Alito.”
His face twisted with fury, Frankie Alito got to his feet, jabbing an elbow hard into Ryan’s shoulder.
“I saw that, too,” Mr. Thomas said. “You’re only making it worse.”
Alito shrugged and walked to the door, then paused before opening it. He turned his eyes, boring into Ryan, and then he smiled.
It was a smile that sank like a dart into Ryan’s belly.
“Okay. Show’s over,” Mr. Thomas said, breaking the uneasy silence that had fallen over the room. “Back to your tests. You have only ten minutes left.”
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