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Mark M. DeRobertis

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The Vase
by Mark M. DeRobertis   

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Category: 

Mystery/Suspense

Publisher:  Penumbra Publishing ISBN-10:  1938758234 Type: 
Pages: 

230

Copyright:  August 2013 ISBN-13:  9781938758232
Non-Fiction

Price: $2.99 (eBook)
Download to your Kindle (eBook)
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Penumbra Publishing
THE VASE

A humble Palestinian potter has no clue that a vase from his father's ancient collection is instrumental in a plot to assassinate the Pope and the Israeli prime minister.

During an unusual heat wave in Nazareth, a series of freak geomagnetic storms sets in motion a bizarre chain of events, all of which revolve around a lone ancient vase. The vase belongs to a humble Palestinian potter who depends on the largess of tourists to earn his meager living from sales of earthenware in the Old City Market. He is no stranger to violence, having lost his eldest son three years before, when Hamas terrorists convinced the boy to participate in a terrorist attack. The potter is determined to keep his remaining son safe, but he has no idea the terrorists are secretly recruiting him to follow his older brother’s footsteps in a plot to assassinate the Pope and the Israeli prime minister during an upcoming tour of the Holy Land.

After being recruited by Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency, a Jewish art professor plots revenge for the death of his only son in the same terrorist attack three years before. Realizing the terrorists use the potter’s shop as a clandestine meeting place, the professor convinces the potter to lend him an ancient vase from his ancestral collection for art history classes at the local university. With the help of a fellow operative, the professor plants a remote-control bomb inside the vase and then returns it to the potter.

Meanwhile, the appearance of apparitions in the Old City Market – Roman soldiers, ancient Islamic warriors, and more – causes local Muslim holy men to curse a lucrative Lebanese restaurant located across the street from the potter’s shop. Desperate to rid his business of the spirits, the restaurant owner calls on the Hollywood host of a ghost hunter reality show. Despite the ghost hunter’s best efforts, things quickly get out of hand. Are the apparitions really ghosts or just Hollywood illusions? Perhaps they’re the result of a freak act of nature – or God. While the world reels from the amazing images, fear, hatred, and revenge spiral out of control, leading to secret plots, lies, and murder. Key people work together or against each other to stop the planned assassinations, but will a final apparition help turn the tide of events?

  
Excerpt
Chapter 1

Solar Maximum

A spiteful sun sliced the cloudless sky in white-hot tendrils that shimmered over the rolling hills of Galilee. Red-tiled roofs and black streets of basalt baked in dismay under the sweltering onslaught. Throughout the region, temperatures soared, and Naji Muhabi knew well it wasn’t normal for this time of year. He squinted at the glowing disc above the Jordan Valley. The rays clamped his face in a solar-packed embrace. For a moment he wished the scalding orb could rise from the north where the Lebanese Mountains might veil the torrid current for at least a little while longer.

Naji watched his father plop a mound of wet clay onto his throwing wheel outside their pottery shop and adjust an army-green canvas overhead to ensure the next few hours would not broil him in direct sunlight. The bazaar hadn’t peaked, and Naji knew his father wanted to increase the number of newly thrown vases to impress the tourists as they swarmed the Old City Market in the heart of Nazareth.

“Father, I am here,” Naji shouted in his native Arabic. He carried several pots within his folded arms. Always mindful, he had yet to drop a single one.

Naji’s father smiled and said, “Yes, Naji. Put them here. Is that the last of them?”

“Do you want me to bring the old ones, too?”

“No, my son, just the ones we didn’t sell last week.”

Hours passed, and the streets clamored with a dense throng of pedestrians dangling cameras on their chests. They mingled with Israeli soldiers who carried automatic weapons across their backs. It was a fast day, but not a profitable one. Sales were few, and Naji began to wonder if he shouldn’t bring out the vessels handed down from his grandfather. Antiques moved, sometimes with frequency, and carried a greater value. It all depended on the tourist. Bright and shiny glazes caught the attention of purchasers, yet often it was the rustic surfaces that earned their keep. Naji was aware his father preferred to preserve his ancient collection, hoping to pass the heirlooms to his offspring. However, recent events made it doubtful that would happen. Last year’s suicide explosion ruined most of their private stock. Only the bomber lost his life that day, but the errant youth was in the shop next to theirs when the makeshift fuse ignited.

Whatever could go wrong did go wrong, and with Naji’s family, it seemed habitual. The endless strife saw Naji’s older brother killed three years before, and soon thereafter, his mother returned to her parents in neighboring Syria. She preferred a life without the constant conflict of a land shredded by extremists fueling death and hatred in the name of Abraham.


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