Dr. Clotile Lejeune, an ancient languages expert, barely survived her encounter with the Kolektor, a billionaire arms merchant desperate to possess the ancient oil jar bequeathed to Cloe by her father. Now that the Kolektor has met his fate at the hands of the Sicarii-the shadowy successors to Judean revolutionaries and now guardians of the cave of jars-Cloe is busy translating the newly discovered and potentially earth-shaking journal of Christ's public ministry. But when she is called to a personal audience with the pope, Cloe soon realizes her past has caught up with her once again.
With the fate of Christianity at risk, Pope Francis charges Cloe to find the cache of jars and keep them away from their adversaries. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the Kolektor's criminal organization has been taken over by a ruthless man intent on stopping at nothing to find the cave of jars-and the Sicarii. Led by biblical clues, Cloe; her son, J.E.; and the monsignor, a mysterious Vatican operative, embark on a perilous journey to France, Jerusalem, and Tunisia, relentlessly pursued by the Kolektor's replacement. Only time will tell who will find the cave of jars first.
In the exciting sequel to Judas the Apostle, Cloe and her friends race against time to find the ancient jars before Christianity is destroyed forever.
|Product dimensions:||6.02(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.88(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Last Sicarius
By VAN R. MAYHALL JR.
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 Van R. Mayhall Jr.
All rights reserved.
In a wooded area near the Hinnom Valley, the servant watched as the priest and his Swiss retainers slammed into the Kolektor's defensive position in the parking area outside Hakeldama, shouting and shooting, assaulting the defenders with automatic weapons. This could only be a rescue party led by the monsignor's friends along with the Swiss Guard, personal bodyguards to the pope. His master, the Kolektor, had said they would come sooner or later. He knew the Kolektor's rear guard would fight like trapped rats. Each fighter understood the only choice was victory or death. The Kolektor tolerated nothing in between.
The servant, unarmed, was at the laptop computer in the rear of the panel truck when the cleric and his forces first struck. He had no alternative but to try to hide, so he cowered on the floor, wriggling under a tarp apparently left behind by a work crew. A fusillade of bullets began to splatter and ping against the vehicle's hollow metal walls. He could hear the answering fire of the weapons of the men who had been left to guard the Kolektor's flank while the Kolektor himself took care of his deadly business in Hakeldama, the Bloody Acre. In a final overwhelming assault, the attackers launched such a volley of bullets that all the windows in the rear and the side of the truck exploded inward, showering the coarse tarp in broken glass. Only the heavy covering protected him from being severely wounded by the ricocheting pellets of broken safety glass. The Kolektor's men had been cut down where they stood. The way to Hakeldama and to the Kolektor, his master, was open.
Suddenly, there was silence. The servant peeked from below the tarp to see gun smoke and smell gunpowder all around him. Then he heard shouts from the assault team and their hurried footsteps as they converged on the truck and its duplicate next to it. He cowered under the cover again, trying to make himself invisible.
A voice shouted, "Check them!"
"They are all dead, Reverend Father," a man replied.
"Check the trucks!" someone else yelled.
The servant's heart pounded in his chest as the door opened and he felt the presence of someone in the truck with him, smelled the stink of the man's body, and heard boots crunch on broken glass. He held his breath.
"Nothing!" a voice cried out.
Then the man was gone, and footsteps moved away at a rapid pace. The servant slid out from beneath the broken glass–covered tarp and crawled to the front of the truck, where the windshield was still largely intact. Carefully, he peeked over the dash and saw the priest and his Swiss soldiers heading toward the pathway into Hakeldama—after the Kolektor. The Kolektor had told him this was the Bloody Acre that had been purchased by Judas Iscariot himself—the Bloody Acre where the Kolektor had decided to dispose of his hostages, the accursed monsignor, the lady scholar, and her son and uncle.
The servant then saw the monsignor himself, apparently no longer a hostage, speaking briefly to the cleric in charge of the Swiss assault force. Plainly, the Kolektor's plan to dispose of all of the hostages had not succeeded. The two priests joined their troops, hurrying on into Hakeldama.
The servant was unsure of what to do. Should he attempt to go to the aid of his master? The sound of a single shot in the distance from the interior of the Bloody Acre galvanized his attention. It was followed by a long, keening scream. He had never before heard such a shriek, imbued as it was with equal parts horror and despair, but he knew in an instant that it came from his master. For a moment, he wanted to cover his head and ears. The screech devolved into a bawling and then abruptly cut off. Electrified by his terror, he jumped behind the wheel of the truck and turned the key, hoping that somehow the engine and other essential parts had not been seriously damaged in the gunfight. The engine fired up immediately, and he backed the vehicle out of the space and drove deliberately off to the south. In the rearview mirror he saw the other truck and his dead comrades framed like stick men in their death throes, but as he watched, no one followed.
The servant had not survived in the Kolektor's employ for so many years without being able to figure out what was happening. The master was surely in terrible trouble, if not already dead. But plans had been laid for such contingencies. The servant knew exactly what he had to do. He hurried back to the Kolektor's bunker below the Jewish quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.CHAPTER 2
The servant gazed out over the ice-capped peaks framed by the floor-to-ceiling windows in the rear wall of the dacha. This place, the Kolektor's most sacred retreat, was near the small village where the Kolektor had been born. The village had been looted and burned by the Turks in World War II. The Kolektor's parents had been murdered and his sister transformed into a babbling idiot by the atrocities. The Kolektor's father had beseeched the local priest to help them get out. But the church either could not or would not help. His master had vowed vengeance.
Years later, the Kolektor had returned and purchased land and built this sweeping sanctuary overlooking the mountains bordering Turkey and Armenia. In his most trying times, the Kolektor would return, reconnect with his roots, and be renewed. He spoke Armenian, as did his servant, and he had often visited with the surviving villagers, some of whom still remembered his family. The servant knew that the Kolektor would return no more.
Head hung low, he sat and wondered what he should do now. The plan the master had laid out had been followed explicitly. After the fiasco at Hakeldama, he had retrieved the contents of the Kolektor's personal safe. Upon arriving at the simple antiquities shop that was the facade for the underground bunker, he had seen that the door had been forced and the security system bypassed. The servant feared that the Israeli authorities had arrived before him and that he would be arrested. But everything was deathly quiet.
The servant had gone directly to the master's inner office and accessed his private safe, which had not been disturbed. Apparently, whoever had been there before him was after something else. There he found the master's computer and account codes and a personal letter handwritten by the Kolektor. The envelope was not addressed to the servant, but when he saw the name on the envelope, he opened it anyway:
Since you are reading this, I must be dead. I have lived long and well. Even so my life is not over. You have been lately in my most intimate thoughts. It is right that you should carry on in my absence. We are, and always have been, one in our cause.
You will have the computer and bank codes to the vast riches I have amassed. You are my heir. To you I leave everything. You are my successor. You shall become the Kolektor. Find the rarest things and make them yours. Let nothing stand in your way. This is your destiny.
The letter was signed by the master.
The servant knew the rest of the master's plan by heart. As he departed the bunker perhaps for the last time, he had noted that the jar and the manuscript were gone. Nothing else seemed to have been disturbed. Initially, he wondered who could have taken the relics. Who would have taken them but left all the other treasures untouched? Whatever had happened to the master at Hakeldama must somehow be connected with the break-in and theft of the manuscript and the old oil jar, he concluded. He would have to consider that when there was time.
On the way to the airport, he had phoned the pilots. One of the Kolektor's private jets was warming on the tarmac when the servant arrived at the general aviation depot of the airport. In a matter of minutes, he was on his way at five hundred miles an hour to this retreat. The servant studied the Kolektor's final message over and over. Tears of rage came to his eyes as he thought of the years he had served his master. Should the servant not be the Kolektor's rightful successor? He had been with him since their university days. He had earned this, had he not? Still, he was sworn to his master under his native ways. The servant had little choice but to begin to contemplate his destiny.
A few hours later, the servant had landed at the nearest airport that could accommodate the jet. Here the servant switched to the Kolektor's helicopter and was ferried to the chalet. He arrived to find the chalet freshly cleaned and provisioned as usual. A bevy of loyal servants had always attended to the master's needs. He called them all together, greeted them, and told them the Kolektor would never return. He could barely control his grief—his anger!
The servant had then finally retired to the master's lounge and seated himself in his master's favorite chair. He was accustomed to taking orders, not giving them, not making decisions for himself. He was shocked to think of the riches represented by the computer and account codes. The Kolektor had amassed billions, and now it was all up for grabs. The note left everything to the Kolektor's heir. But who better to continue the master's work than his most trusted servant? Had he served the Kolektor all these years to come to nothing? Still, what of his oath and his lifetime of devotion to his master? What of the old ways? The servant was sorely conflicted, and soon doubt began to worm its way into his mind. Could he even do it? What if something happened to the heir? What if the heir was dead? Even so, and even if he had the master's blessing, was he up to stepping into the Kolektor's shoes?
The Kolektor had been after the Judas jar and the manuscript, items reputedly of incalculable value. He had captured the scholar, Dr. Clotile Lejeune, and her cohorts along with the jar, the manuscript, and all of her research. But something had gone terribly wrong at Hakeldama, and they had somehow thwarted the master and all his forces. The master was dead. The Kolektor dead? He could barely hold on to the thought. Now it seemed the Lejeune woman once again had the jar and the manuscript of the Judas Gospel. Somehow she or her allies must have been behind the break-in at the bunker.
The Kolektor himself thought she had discovered something far more important than the Judas Gospel. There were whispers about a journal. Some said a diary had been kept by one of the Apostles, perhaps Judas, of the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ. The very idea had inflamed the Kolektor. Such a thing would have value beyond thought or calculation. It could upend the world's religions or confirm them. The master had been mad to learn the truth and to possess its proof. It had resulted in his end.
Shaking his head, the servant realized that the day had gotten away from him while he was lost in his thoughts. A fire crackled in the nearby fireplace. It was all very comfortable and familiar. He looked up as a servant slipped silently into the room.
He approached with a tray of sweet meats and condiments and a carafe of wine.
"You must be hungry," the servant Noosh said in Armenian. "Would you consider some refreshment ... master?"
After a moment he replied, sharply, "The master is dead. I cannot be your master. I am your leader, your Karik."CHAPTER 3
RIO DE JANEIRO
TWO MONTHS LATER
Miguel jumped into the Land Rover next to his wife of fifteen years and his two boys, ten and twelve years old. Miguel's eyes lit up every time he saw them. Their baggage had been loaded by his men, and all was ready for them to go into the city for a weekend holiday.
His men, ex-soldiers, had positioned themselves strategically around the vehicle and the walkway from his mountainside home. Their weapons were at the ready. He hated that he and his family required such a high level of security no matter where they went. These were the wages of his business and the enemies he had made over his almost five decades of life.
Both boys were going to be tall and thin but well muscled like their father. But unlike their dad, both boys had their mother's deep brown eyes and high cheekbones. With some Spanish and some native Brazilian heritage, she had finely sculptured features and long black hair. Her father was a high-ranking patron in the Brazilian social hierarchy.
As the boys fidgeted in the large backseat next to him, he felt his satellite phone buzz. He had told his office no calls, but this was his personal, secure phone, and only a few people had the number. Holding up the sat phone, he looked at his wife and said, "I have to take this in the open."
She glanced at him, smiled, and said, "Hurry, then."
"Come on out, boys, for a last stretch before the long ride," said Miguel.
Miguel stepped out of the Land Rover and glanced at his chief of security. In response to his unspoken question, the man nodded that all was okay. With the two boys trailing him, Miguel walked back toward the house, away from the trees lining the driveway, while looking at the tiny screen on the phone. The boys were kicking a ball back and forth. He noted out of the corner of his eye that the security chief was walking up the driveway toward the rear gardens. The man was very thorough.
As he mounted the steps, tiered landscaping on either side, he began to enter the call-back number. When he had entered all the digits, he checked them against the number on his screen.
Just as he hit the green "send" button, one of the boys kicked the ball back toward the car, and they both turned and ran after it. Almost immediately, the Land Rover erupted into a massive explosion of fire, glass, and metal. Miguel was blown against the heavy front door of the mansion, and all went black.
* * *
Searing pain tore through his body as he sought consciousness. At the edges, he began to perceive light. The agony doubled. Miguel blinked and began to take in some of his surroundings. A nurse sat in a chair in one corner of the room, reading a magazine. One of his men, fully armed, stood at the foot of the bed facing the door. He had no doubt there were others outside. The light faded, and Miguel once again found the refuge of unconsciousness.
Time swirled around him. He knew there was something he had to do, but he was so tired. Still, it would not let him alone, so he began swimming toward the light. Struggling, he opened his eyes and saw the hospital room again. There were doctors, nurses, a couple of his bodyguards, and his number one, Tomás.
"Water," he croaked.
One of the nurses put a straw between his lips, and he drank deeply. Nothing had ever tasted so good.
He looked at Tomás and asked, "My family?"
Tomás shook his head and said, "They were buried two days ago. You have been gone for five days."
Miguel closed his eyes. Why had the two boys run back toward the vehicle? He began to sob—deep, heaving, inconsolable sobs.
"Tomás, who?" asked Miguel after he began to collect himself.
"We don't know yet, boss," replied Tomás. "We have feelers out but no hits. We have checked on the most likely suspects. Right now, it does not look business-related. From what we have been able to find out, this seems to have been personal."
"Personal?" Miguel let the word roll on his tongue. "I need to get out of here."
The doctor stepped forward and said, "Out of the question. You must rest. Although you have no broken bones, you have suffered a severe concussion. It was necessary to keep you in an induced coma for a while to make sure there was no swelling in the brain. Now that you are awake, we will want you here for several more days for extensive tests."
"Doctor, I am tired. Please have the room cleared so I can rest," said Miguel.
When all save Tomás had gone, Miguel said, "Tomás, put our people on the street. Money is no object. There will be a trail or path. Find the people who killed my family."
Excerpted from The Last Sicarius by VAN R. MAYHALL JR.. Copyright © 2014 Van R. Mayhall Jr.. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the sequel to Judas the Apostle. Cloe and her son J.E. continue the quest to find the "cave of Jars" her father spoke about finding during war. They are joined by people from the Vatican and try to out run the Karik who took the place of the deceased Kolector in trying to find the cave once again in an attempt to bring down the Catholic Church. Once again a good storyline and interesting characters. **I received this book in return for an honest review***
Dr Clotile Lejeune is a respected expert on ancient languages. Her father, from whom she has been estranged for some time, is murdered. He has bequeathed to her an ancient jar with the inscription Judas Iscariot. He found this in a cave with many hundreds of other jars, and brought it back. She is hard at work translating an ancient manuscript. Others want to get their hands on the manuscript, and violent crimes are committed to this end. She has a second jar given to her by the Sicarii when they had saved her from harm. Flashbacks to the whereabouts of the jar in past times, and connection to Biblical characters and times, make for fascinating reading.
Not many books have an ending that makes me tear up, but this one did. The interaction between good and evil continues with suspense, danger, treachery and betrayal, as the modern forces of science seek to locate ancient texts that will illuminate the early days of Christianity, while the forces of evil seek the same sources to discredit the church. This story is even more intriguing than the first as the action continues unabated. The book contains enough backstory to make it independent of "Judas the Apostle," so it stands on its own, but I'm glad I read "Judas" first. I definitely recommend this book.
I just finished reading “The Last Sicarius”. It was an enjoyable sequel to “Judas the Apostle”! The reader gets to join in once again with our familiar friends, while trying to decide who to trust from the new characters introduced. Just when you think you have it figured out, or what you think will happen next, there is a twist and then yet another. The telling holds the reader’s attention, and the ending leaves the reader wanting more - with so many possibilities it’s hard to know where Mr. Mayhall will lead us on our next adventure! It can't come so enough! I also like the short chapters, because time never allows me the opportunity to read a book through in one sitting. Good read, but I’d definitely recommend starting with “Judas the Apostle” first if you haven’t read it.