Splintered Icon

Splintered Icon

by Bill Napier
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Splintered Icon by Bill Napier

One of the most captivating books you will ever read, Bill Napier's debut novel Splintered Icon will shatter your illusions with its high stakes plot, fascinating characters, and unrelenting suspense...


Antiquarian bookseller Harry Blake is hired to appraise a four-hundred-year-old journal bequeathed to a wealthy landowner. At first, it appears to be only the curiously coded diary of a young cabin boy aboard Sir Walter Raleigh's celebrated 1585 Elizabethan expedition. But when Harry's client is murdered and his own life is threatened, he realizes that he's opened the door to a mystery worth killing for...


Enlisting the aide of eminent map dealer Zola Kahn, Harry uncovers something else. Buried in the cryptic writings are puzzling references to a "secret purpose", terrified revelations of murder at sea, and an astonishing disclosure: the location of an invaluable holy relic thought lost for more than a thousand years.


Harry and Zola follow a trail that leads them to an ancient and dangerous secret conspiracy still unraveling after centuries, and possessing the unimaginable power to literally change history-and splinter it forever.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312936686
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/30/2005
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 4.21(w) x 6.66(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

PROFESSOR BILL NAPIER is a career scientist, trained in Scotland, with a specialty in astronomy. He has long been fascinated by rumors of a 16th Century conspiracy to mix astronomy, history, and religion in a plot that would have changed the world forever. The mysterious icon at the center of Splintered Icon the key to that conspiracy, inspired in part by John Dee, the Queen's astronomer. Dee was also a shadowy spy operating under the code name 007. Bill Napier lives in Ireland with his wife.

Read an Excerpt

Splintered Icon

By Bill Napier

St. Martin's Paperbacks

Copyright © 2005 Bill Napier
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312936686

Splintered Icon
Part OneGOD'S LONGITUDEChapter 1THE BIRD circles gracefully, high in the mountain thermal, a slow, lazy motion. Delicate fine-tunings of its wings, the product of ancient evolutionary forces, keep its head perfectly level in the updraft and its black eyes steadily fixed on a spot five hundred feet below. These eyes are focused on a large, motionless animal. Ancient instincts tell the bird that this big animal is in trouble. 
A SHADOW flits briefly over the man. Something big, but he can't think what. He forces his eyes open but at first sees only the harsh sun. Then a high, black shape: a bird, a beautiful thing, soaring in the mountain air.And another. And another.Need to drink. Tongue a lead weight. Face hot, beaded with sweat.Lots of them now.They're circling around me. Getting lower.A buzzard lands, about twenty yards away. Not graceful at all: powerful tearing beak, bald head, long scraggy neck, big talons. And those black shiny eyes.Strong flapping behind me, from big wings, and ascuffling noise, like two birds squabbling. And then a quiet rustling sound, very close. Almost at my neck.I can't move!Several pairs of eyes now. No pity in them, no way to plead or reason, no way for our minds to connect. Closing in, in cautious little hops. Indians round a wagon circle.They'll go for the softest parts of me first, the eyes. Then maybe my ears and nose. Then they'll start on my neck and cheeks, tearing at the flesh.Don't die, not like this. Not eaten alive by vultures. 
"IT'S NOT like forensic entomology, for example."The Professor--at least that's what he appears to be--is a small, weedy, wrinkled man with a sweaty, pinched face and a turned-down mouth with thin, mean lips. He is wearing a cheap grey nylon suit, an absurdity in the Jamaican climate: it is stained with sweat from his armpits. A gaudy tie is pulled wide at the neck. His eyes are small and black. He is leaning over a small wooden artefact on the table in front of him. It is in three panels, hinged together so that the two side panels can fold on top of the central one. This central part contains a little rectangle of gnarled wood. The other two panels are painted, a mother and child on the left panel, Christ crucified on the other against a black and stormy sky. He is scanning this strange object with a large magnifying glass."Entomology?" A second man scratches his head.The Professor smiles primly. "Insects. If this was an insect we would have a large DNA database. But as you see, this is a piece of wood, not an insect, and wood, after all, is dead. There are some special tests we can applyto test for particular types--staining, shining ultraviolet light on them and so on. But these are only useful for identifying unusual families of trees, usually obscure species from South America. The Vochysiaceae family, for example, accumulates aluminium from the soil, and its wood turns blue if we apply a special reagent."As execution chambers go, this one is comfortable, even luxurious. The room is large. One wall consists of nothing but French windows. Beyond it there is a broad balcony, and beyond that the black expanse of the midnight Caribbean. Expensive air conditioners whisper, barely audible, from the corners. The floor is laid with imported Italian marble, in big multicoloured squares. The furniture is heavy, dark brown and ornately carved in the Mexican style. Exotic lampstands and vases are scattered around, and Jamaican artwork in bright primary colours decorates the walls.Three people are seated on a deep, low, white leather sofa. In the middle is a bearded man, tall and well-built, in his early thirties. He is sitting upright, tense and watchful, calculating the odds. A teenage girl to his left, casually dressed in jeans and white sweater, is breathing in big gulps, hyperventilating. She has a bruised cheek. Her eyes are wide with fear and she is trying hard to keep herself under control. On the man's right is a woman also in her early thirties. She too is casually dressed and calculating the odds, coming up with the same hopeless answer. They know that, so long as the Professor keeps talking, they stay alive. Their problems begin when he shuts up.Two men are standing across from them at a table. One of them is the Professor; the other is of Mediterranean extraction, probably Greek. He is short andstocky, with a deep-wrinkled, angular face. He is wearing black trousers and an open-necked shirt with a silver cross--or swastika--hanging around his neck on a chain.A heavy black revolver lies on the polished table in front of the Greek, within his arm's length. His companion is talking.Apart from the Greek, six others in the room are armed with guns, five men and a woman. The woman is leaning back, relaxed, in an armchair in one corner. She too has Mediterranean features; she is wearing a long, slim, pink evening dress and a lot of gold. She has a revolver resting on her lap. The five men are sitting around on casual chairs, with the exception of a young, black Jamaican with dreadlocks. He is sitting cross-legged on a bean cushion and is rolling a large joint, his gun on the floor. He seems to be more interested in his joint than in the prisoners. The woman, however, is watching them carefully, a cat eyeing up a mouse, a distant half-smile on her lips. From time to time she rotates the barrel of her gun, a chamber at a time, as if checking that it is loaded."A scanning electron microscope is a lot of work, and to tell you the truth, my most useful tool is this magnifying glass. For example," the Professor says, peering closely at the wood, "there are about eighteen thousand species of tree worldwide, but I can already, after a few seconds with my lens, narrow this wood down to a few hundred possibilities."He drones on. His small black eyes are shining enthusiastically and his lips are puckered primly. "Tree trunks are really marvels of plumbing. There are chains of large cells which carry water from the roots to theleaves, and more chains which carry the sugary liquid made by the leaves back down through the tree trunk. Different species have different patterns of plumbing, you know. Ah, now this is interesting. Here we have big structures mixed in with the smaller, finer cells. That means I can eliminate a whole swathe of trees, in particular the softwoods. I believe we are down to ash, hickory or oak."The young Jamaican says: "Ya." He has finished rolling the joint. He pulls out a thin blue lighter, flicks it and puffs. Whorls of ganja smoke begin to drift upwards. He watches them rise towards the ceiling, a look of contentment settling on his face.The Professor looks up from his magnifying glass. "Jesus Christ was most probably crucified on a cross made from a white oak, a common tree in the Middle East then and now. Something like a boat was discovered some decades ago on Mount Ararat in Turkey. It turned out to be made from white oak, and enthusiasts have seen it as evidence that the boat was Noah's Ark." Again that prim, superior smile. "There are several types of oak, quercus robur, quercus rubra ...""Doctor ..."But the Professor seems insensitive to the volcano of impatience building up inside his companion. " ... and I can tell you that this particular wood is white oak."The Greek says, "What are you telling us, Doctor? That the wood is from the Middle East?""Unfortunately white oak is also found in North America. It was often used for shipbuilding two hundred years ago. However, in my opinion this wood is much more than two centuries old. And there are subtledifferences between North American and Middle Eastern white oak. It is my opinion that this is not North American white oak. Yes, it comes from the Middle East. And yes, it is very, very old."The Greek's temper has reached its limits. He asks: "Is it the icon or not? Yes or no?"The Professor smiles triumphantly. "Of course proper verification would require carbon-14 dating. But I can safely rule out some sort of elaborate modern forgery."For the captives, the remark is a death sentence."Thank you, Doctor." The Greek exhales air as if a pressure valve has been opened. "I think you can leave us now. Cassandra, would you see to the Doctor's fee?"The Professor gives a slight bow of his head. "I would like to be well clear of this island before"--he glances briefly at the captives--"before there is any unpleasantness."The Greek exposes his teeth. "You will be long gone before anything happens here." The woman in pink uncrosses her legs, stands up and walks towards the prisoners. Her high heels click-click sharply on the stone floor.The Professor gives a last glance at the prisoners, this one slightly anxious. "They have seen my face, you know.""Doctor, you have absolutely no worries in that direction."She raises her gun.Copyright © 2003 by Bill Napier.


Excerpted from Splintered Icon by Bill Napier Copyright © 2005 by Bill Napier. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Splintered Icon 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading this book was a rollercoaster which really made me think. Revealing itself as a tautly thrilling book, it made me want to read more of Bill Napier's work. Intelligent ideas, expressed in exciting scenarios underpin the writing. I was intrigued and it made me really think about what I would do in the same circumstances as the characters. As ever in good thrillers there were no easy answers, and as the characters weaved their way through the challenges I was gripped. It was great fun and flew along at a furious pace. An involving read which should appeal to fans of thrillers who like intelligence, suspense and interwoven ideas expressed crisply and economically. I was sorry when it ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was an interesting read, but it seemed like bits of the plot and character development had been left out. I wouldn't even compare it to Dan Brown's work. There are more notable reads like Steve Barry's or James Rollin's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I stumbled upon this book at an airport when trying to find something for the return flight home. The caption on the front cover caught my eye -'Fans of Dan Brown take note.' I gave it a try and I'm happy I did. It was easy to read and had a fine mix of historical events and pure imagination. It has some minor flaws but they can be overlooked. A great notch below some of Dan Brown's works, Splintered Icon is still worth the read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Lincoln, England local gentry Sir Toby Tebbit hires antiques documents dealer Harry Blake to evaluate papers he just inherited from a relative who just died in Jamaica. The next morning Harry visits Toby at the latter¿s home and makes a quick assessment of what look like a several century old journal. Toby asks Harry to take the journal with him to transcribe, but not to mention his connection to anyone................. A woman calling herself Cassandra offers Harry a lot of money for the journal he refuses, but as she departs she warns him that other means will be used to persuade his handing over the journal. Fred Sweet demands it next saying he will use a poisonous pen on Harry. Not long after that Harry learns that someone murdered his client. Knowing that the journal contains information outside his discipline he asks marine historian Zola Kahn to help him understand why someone would commit homicide over a four hundred years old tome before he becomes victim number two. Harry will soon learn that the Elizabethan Era journal could cause a pandemic holy war that would make the Crusades look like child play................. This action-packed thriller never slows down as attempts to harm, maim, or kill Harry pile up over possession of the journal. The story line is action-packed but contains an extra edge because Harry is everyman going about his daily business and not a hero he will remind the audience of Roger O. Thornhill from Hitchcock¿s North by Northwest. The pair of conspiracies seems a stretch, but fans will not care as they learn what they are and wonder if Harry can survive.............. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do u rp limekit?-mudkit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She cuddled against him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We are quiting rp. Stay strong Blazeclan! ~Darkpelt, Midnightpaw, Blackpaw, Greypaw, Strongpaw, Brownpaw, and Darkpaw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cani rp a kit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Padded over to Yellowgaze and groomed her paw. "Whats wrong?" She asked between licks. -Blossomwing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Burningkit ran away? My daughter larkkit is th him...does that mean he left without telling her? I thought he was still here...