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The Tavernier Stones

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When the well-preserved body of seventeenth-century mapmaker Johannes Cellarius floats to the surface of a bog in northern Germany, a 57-carat ruby clutched in his fist, the grisly discovery attracts the attention of criminals, crooks, and thugs across the globe. It ignites a deadly international treasure hunt to find the fabled Tavernier Stones, a stash that reputedly contains some of the world's most notorious missing jewels, including the 280-carat Great Mogul Diamond and the...

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When the well-preserved body of seventeenth-century mapmaker Johannes Cellarius floats to the surface of a bog in northern Germany, a 57-carat ruby clutched in his fist, the grisly discovery attracts the attention of criminals, crooks, and thugs across the globe. It ignites a deadly international treasure hunt to find the fabled Tavernier Stones, a stash that reputedly contains some of the world's most notorious missing jewels, including the 280-carat Great Mogul Diamond and the 242-carat Great Table Diamond.

Scrupulously honest Amish-born cartographer John Graf teams up with outlaw prospector and gemologist David Freeman in a ferocious race to be the first to find the treasure and solve the centuries-old Tavernier Stones mystery. In close pursuit of the mismatched amateur sleuths are cutthroats and desperados who'll stop at nothing to possess the legendary jewels—not even murder.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Parrish's debut, a Da Vinci Code satire, fails to make the most of its intriguing premise. When a bog man preserved in peat turns up near Hamburg, Germany, the police discover an enormous ruby clenched in his fist. Authorities identify him as Johannes Cellarius, a 17th-century cartographer, who was possibly done in with a pickaxe by a jealous husband. The really cold corpse inspires a global treasure hunt for the legendary Tavernier Stones, of which the ruby was part, lost by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689) during his fabled seventh journey to the Orient. The last map Cellarius drew contains a clue composed of medieval runes. John Graf¸ an Amish cartographer, teams with David Freeman, a brilliant thief and gemologist, but more ruthless folks are also after the jewels. A gemologist and cartographer himself, Parrish slyly mixes fact and fancy as the progressively more silly action builds to an over-the-top climax. (May)
Children's Literature - Ann Sanger
Homicide Detective Pfeffer drives through the thickets into Holmmoor, a bog north of Hamburg to investigate another dead body rising from the peat bog. The police assume this is one of the bog people-some over two thousand years old-who spring out of the thawing ground in this section of Germany. The Middle Age style of clothing sets this gentleman apart with short breeches, hosiery over his calves, and wide buckled shoes. Probably he was the victim of a murder or a sacrifice. Stranger still, he appeared to have a smile on his face and a 57-carat ruby clutched in his hand. The ensuing treasure hunt for notorious missing Tavernier stones including a 280-carat diamond, brings together an Amish born cartographer and an unscrupulous gemologist. This mystery novel was a page-turner packed full of adventure. The information concerning cartography was very convincing. However, if this was intended for young adult reader, I cannot recommend this book for the unnecessary use of profanity, coarse language, and multitudes of innuendos of sexual behavior. Intriguing as this novel is, the trash talk stopped my reading before the end of the book. Reviewer: Ann Sanger
Library Journal
A reader wouldn't expect to find an Amish protagonist in an artifact adventure/thriller, but Parrish gives us exactly that in his debut novel. Cartographer John Graf, shunned by his Amish community for pursuing higher education, becomes embroiled in a mystery when the remains of 17th-century mapmaker Cellarius, the subject of centuries-old conjecture, emerge from a German bog. The discovery of his corpse and a ruby clutched in his death grip gives credence to the existence of the fabled Tavernier Stones, a cache of the world's most prized missing jewels. Graf joins forces with a gemologist-turned-grifter to solve a puzzle Cellarius encoded into his final and most famous map. As Graf approaches the solution, his life seems to unravel. Of course, Team Graf is not alone in its pursuit, and each treasure hunter has a story. VERDICT Parrish offers enough detail concerning cartography, cryptography, gemology, and Amish culture to satisfy the most rapacious fact junkie, and the puzzle is clever and the action plausible. If his subsequent novels are researched to the same degree, he could claim a legitimate position among the notables of this genre.—Laura A.B. Cifelli, Ft. Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410428493
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 8/18/2010
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 532
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Parrish (Germany) is a cartographer and gemologist. The Tavernier Stones is his first book. Visit him online at

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    X marks the spot.....

    One of history's greatest cartographer, Johannes Cellarius, disappeared in the 17th century under mysterious circumstances. Now, more than 200 years later, his body has been recovered in a bog in Germany with an amazing object clutched in his fist- a 57 carat ruby. Cellarius' connection to the Tavernier stones has prompted treasure hunters from around the world to converge on Europe, among them John Graf, an Amish cartographer and David Freeman, a brilliant gemologist turned con-man. They reluctantly form an alliance to find the solve the cryptic message on one of Cellarius' maps and find the famed Tavernier stones, racing against countless others to be the first to claim one of history's greatest prizes. Competition is very stiff, however, and the two may not make it out of this adventure alive.

    The Tavernier Stones by Stephen Parrish is an excellent debut novel which demonstrates this writer's huge potential. Parrish has chosen to craft his novel in the tradition of Indiana Jones, forcing the characters to follow clues and decipher cryptic messages in order to find their prize. As with any good treasure hunting novel, there are a few red herrings thrown in for good measure. The novel flows very well from chapter to chapter and the characters' depth allows the reader to understand their individual motives for finding the stones. Readers who enjoy such authors as Dan Brown and Matthew Reilly should relish this book, as it would be a fine addition to any home's library. I am looking very forward to Parrish's next novel and hope he will bring back John Graf, who has the potential to be a long lasting character like Brown's hero Robert Langdon. I would give this book 5 of 5 stars.-Jud Hanson

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Good Story with a light pace

    This was a good light paced read. An intricately woven tale of 4 groups of people searching for the Tavernier Stones that kept a fresh pace without bogging down in to much detail. Enjoyed this story and the ending was really good as all characters got what they really wanted or deserved in the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    Superbly written

    Finally an adventure novel that doesn't have teams of secret operatives getting out of unrealistic jams. The characters are believable and likeable and the book was well researched and flowed nicely. Very impressive first novel, am looking forward to reading more from this author!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2011

    Another Man's Treasure

    A cartographer, a pair of jewel thieves, an adult movie theater owner, a faded aristocrat, and a German detective are at the heart of this treasure hunt. When the body of a seventeenth-century cartographer is found in a bog, the ruby in his hand inspires the world to seek the rest of the legendary Tavernier stones, a gem collection from India that went missing several hundred years ago. The critical question is, what is the true treasure? For some of those pursuing the Tavernier stones, it is the beauty of the gems; for others, it is the money to be derived from selling them; for still others, it may be vengeance, the pleasure of solving a puzzle, fame, or discovering one's place in the world. This is a smart book, informative about gemology, wine making, cartography, cryptography, Anabaptist/Amish history and culture, European history, and a little about witchcraft and sleight of hand. The narrative goes slowly sometimes, with occasional redundancy in the detail-laden text, but the smooth storyteller's voice and ample worldbuilding kept me firmly in the story from beginning to end--with a pleasant twist at the climax when the stones were not found where I expected them to be. Though I enjoyed the novel, I can't rank it among my all-time favorites. The many plot lines are ultimately resolved with no loose ends, but some of the means of tying them up rely too heavily on coincidence for my taste. In addition, the quotations from seventeenth-century documents are rendered with spelling, capitalization, and punctuation conventions that seem about a century too recent, perhaps to make them more accessible to modern readers. And the speech patterns of the main characters are too formal at times, indistinguishable from the narrator's voice. I also cannot truly like or sympathize with any of the characters: either they have quirks that are irritating or some aspect of their nature is implausible, serving only to drive the plot. (Disclaimer: a complimentary copy was provided for review)

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  • Posted August 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Treasure Hunting Thriller

    Former Amish young man John Graf is a cartographer and fascinated when he hears that the body of the famous 17th century fellow mapmaker, Johannes Cellarius has been found in a bog in Germany. Cellarius was clenching a 57-carat ruby. This sends John along with others all around the world on a modern day treasure hunt.
    Though John has left the Amish, he still maintains a simple life that soon overtaken by his obsession to solve the riddles that Cellarius left on the last map he created. As he tries to solve this he encounters David and Sarah a couple who pull jewelry hoists. David is a magician who uses his sleight of hand along with Sarah's sexy clothing to distract the sales clerks. They are an unlikely threesome but they realize they need each other to find the Tavernier Stones.
    Tension builds for John as he is not doing his job and starts to skip work. He is also attracted to Sarah though she and David are a couple. John is given a leave of absence from work that looks like the first step to his being dismissed. He also misses his family and visits them to talk with his sister. He is being shunned and he wonders if he did the right thing in leaving to go to high school and college. However, for now the most important thing to him is solving the mystery of the Tavernier Stones.
    Along with John, David and Sarah, there are others across the world who are also trying to figure out the clues that Cellarius has left on his map. Once one of the puzzles is solved, the answer hits the newspapers, which adds more to the excitement. The threesome decides to go to Germany with the clues they have already solved. Can they get there first and once there can they figure out the remaining clues before anyone else?
    Parrish does move from one treasure hunter to another and you see how each is solving bits of the puzzle. The characters he has created are interesting and you are definitely pulling for John. The Tavernier Stones is a page-turning thriller full of adventure, history and even some humor that you are sure to enjoy.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Perfect Fit!

    FIRST LINE: "There's a dead guy out there."

    When a very old body and an even older gem surface in a bog in northern Germany, persons worldwide realize they're the missing clues to the Tavernier stones, a lost cache of legendary jewels. Amish-born cartographer John Graf throws in his lot with scholar-turned-thief David Freeman in this modern-day treasure hunt. Together with David's gorgeous partner-in-crime Sarah, they race around the world. They don't know it, but they're up against a German Kommissar, a rival crook, and a penurious gentlewoman who bears a striking resemblance to the Wicked Witch of the West.

    You know when you find the perfect pair of jeans? It's when you try them on in the fitting room, checking from all angles, and realize, "Wow, these make my butt look amazing." That's how you'll feel about Tavernier Stones (more or less). Reading this book makes you look - and feel - amazing.

    Let's be honest. I wouldn't have picked up Tavernier Stones on my own. I'd read the first chapter at Book Roast (RIP), and I'd ordered a copy in support of Stephen, a friend in our 100+ person writing circle. Still, considering I'm named after a YA fantasy heroine, I didn't expect to adore this one quite so much as I did. I inhaled it - reading time: 2 hours, 47 minutes.

    Stephen Parrish, much like a snake charmer, coaxed me out of literary complacency with a novel of intelligence and wit (o, the wit; the startling humor!) As a lover of YA, I'm suspect of harsh, bitter writing. Parrish's writing can be mellifluous, almost poetic. He's not permanently jaded about the human condition, as evidenced by this early, poetic statement about John Graf:

    <blockquote>His eyes stared frankly and uncritically, and if he made people feel transparent, he compensated by finding no flaws in their vitreous souls.</blockquote>

    Of course, as a theologian, I'm suspect when religion garners mention on the book jacket. Parrish, however, dealt justly with the Amish faith and culture. As an intellectual, I'm suspect when mathematics code takes an entire chapter. Parrish keeps the pace going. The plot doesn't lag even in the chapters featuring pigpen cipher. Plus, I congratulated myself after I puzzled my way through the clues (with Parrish's omnipresent guidance).

    I'm afraid one particular strength of this novel will be overlooked, because it's so seamlessly and naturally assumed in Parrish's writing: its organic feminism. For example, Parrish could have flattened Sarah (Smith) Sainte-James into a caricature pancake. (And the one character who is flattened - literally - defies gender stereotypes.) Instead we see, as Graf does, through to Sarah's potential. As she develops her own strength, she realizes this is who she could have been all along. I liked Sarah, by the end (despite the fact that she's responsible for the worst romantic choice since Jo picked Dr. Baer over Laurie.)

    If your favorite authors include Danielle Steele, Stephanie Meyer or Sarah Dessen, this is not a book you'd love. Everyone else will enjoy, if not devour, this fast-paced, carefully crafted treasure hunt. It's certainly gift-worthy, an absolutely perfect Father's Day gift, right down to the dedication Parrish makes to his daughter.

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    A Jewel of a Novel

    Propelled by a spectacular opening, in which the corpse of seventeenth-century mapmaker Johannes Cellarius is discovered in a bog with a 57-carat ruby clutched in his fist, THE TAVERNIER STONES quickly unfolds into a treasure hunt adventure even more riveting than the real-life story of the jewels which spawned it. With its effortless weaving of memorable characters--each harboring his or her motive for coveting the stones--and intricate subplots, I found this novel to be an immensely satisfying and enjoyable read. While the ingenuous ending left me hungry for more from this gifted debut author whose writing is as accomplished as his storytelling.

    Parrish incorporates an impressive depth of knowledge about cartography, cryptology, gemstones, and history, and his technical command of these details lends a precious believability to the hunt that is foundational to the book's success. While tension-filled and plenty thrilling, the action never veers off into the realm of the cartoonish, as Parrish grounds us so believably in his world of maps, codes, Amish culture, German lore, and, of course, precious jewels. I love a book where I learn as much as I'm entertained. Especially when the subject matter is as rich as this.

    But none of that stuff would mean much without characters that live and breathe on the page. And live they do. Amish-born cartographer John Graf's struggle between the religious and familial roots he's severed and the worldly quest which becomes his obsession serves as the heart of this novel, and is deftly handled by the author. I was really invested in this character, and was pleasantly and poignantly surprised by where Parrish takes him. While his relationship of necessity with jewel thief David Freeman and his girlfriend, Sarah Sainte-James, crackles with a wit and spark that keeps the pages turning.

    To sum up, I tore through THE TAVERNIER STONES in a couple days. And I guess that's the best recommendation of all. Parrish is the real deal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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