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GW Stephen Brodsky

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Publisher:  Wingspan ISBN-10:  0969700946 Type: 


Copyright:  2007 ISBN-13:  9780969700944

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The Kali pact,the final novel in The Faust Legacy Quartet, is set in 1970s Kashmir, a dangerous region divided between India and Pakistan, ever since India's independence from Britain in 1948. Simon Foster, whose fortunes were chronicled in Book 2 The Phoenix Cage and Book 3 The Dikhelis Sign, reappears as a Major, now a UN Military Observer on the volatile Cerasefire Line.Here he encounters Margitte again, for the first time since their tragic parting in Germany 14 years previously. Against a background of violence, their renewed passion leads to betrayal and death.

In Cyprus (Book 2, The Dikhelis Sign), Simon Foster's promising career started a steady decline. Fourteen years later in 1978, he is a passed-over major on the cusp of middle age. Having done a stint as a staff officer in a military college, he finds himself posted to an international UN military observer group in remote Kashmir, where for seven years a shakey ceasefire has held between the armies of India and Pakistan. Here he is assigned to command a series of field stations staffed by a motley of officers of various nationalities, tasked with inspecting forward areas and reporting ceasefire violations. At the outset he runs afoul of the tyrannical Chilean commanding general and the civilian Chief Administrative Officer Mike Mikhailis, a Greek. Chilean. On his first leave in Srinagar, he and Margitte experience the sudden shock of meeting again, when Simon is invited for drinks at a houseboat of the sort once used by the families of officers of the Raj on idyllic Lake Nageen. Since Simon left her as a hopeless opium addict at a German Kurhaus (Book 2), she has met and married Bjorn Carius, a Danish officer with whom Simon serves, and who he dislikes with a passion. Like moths drawn to a flame, Simon and Margitte are powerless to deny the rekindling of their old passion, and over the next months they embark on an adulterous affair, with trysts whenever possible. Bjorn is suspicious at first, and inevitably he ferrets out the truth. But with nordic outward composure he bides his time, while engineering a field task that will take him alone with Simon into the freezing high Karakorums, a range of the Himalayas where Pakistan's Northern Light Infantry mans the world's highest defensive positions. In the meantime, while still at a field station in the boiling Poonch Valley, Simon discovers that Mike Mikhailis, now grossly fat and almost unrecognizable, is really the murderous EOKA Cypriot terrorist who assassinated Simon's soldier Private Cary Lovewise (Book 3). He finds a means to torment Mikhailis, with the result that Mikhailis inadvertently gets himself blown up by a land mine in the ceasefire line's neutral zone. In the high Karakorums with Simon, Carius finds an opportunity to kill them both by hurling himself with Simon in his grip, off a ridge into a deep abyss. A chain of circumstance leads to thecourt martial of the Pakistan Army officer Captain Iskunder Khan, who was ultimately responsible for the safety of the UN officers. Iskunder Khan commits suicide by deliberately walking into the neutral zone dressed as a peasant, and is shot dead by soldiers of the Indian army. The incident has international ramifications finally, because members of Iskunder's extended family, bent on vengeance and already disaffected with the regime of the dictator Zia ul Haq, sabotage the aircraft in which he is travelling, and as history records, he dies in the crash. The two noncoms who were actually escorting Simon and Bjorn when they died have been court martialed and dismissed from the service. Begum Khan, Iskunder Khan's wealthy and powerful widowed mother, satisfies a debt of honor by hiring them as drug runners, some of their heroin finding its way eventually into the veins of Margitte, once again eking an existence in a Hamurg brothel. When they have accumulated enough rupees, they buy frieghter passage to Canada, and before long are moderately successful menial workers living in a seedy area of Toronto. They die when their house burns to the ground, a circumstance brought about by their shabby down-at-the-heels clandestine basement tenant, whose oven has flooded the house with gas continue has turned on his gas after he has turned its taps on to commit suicide. Thus has ended the life of Hauptsturmfuhrer Reinhardt Faustenach (Book 1), after forty years on the run, bringing The Faust Legacy Quartet full circle.                 

Side by side on the ruined railing, pressed against each other now alongthe length of their arms but not embracing, Simon and Margitte listened to the Vale of Kashmir's night sounds -- the rhythmical crickety chirp of frogs, a cry soemwhere far off, the mysterious sad-sweet half clefs of a sitar. High at their backs, lights were winking on in a few of the hotel's upper windows. They were utterly alone, enfolded in a soft night teemingwith life. A breath of cool air crept off the water to the terrace. Margitte lifted her shawl over her shoulders, and Simon reached a protective arm around her. He felt a letting-go now, that he hadn't feltsince their parting. He knew right then that it was she -- only she of all creatures on the planet -- who completed him. He'd die to keep her, if he had to. Without her he wasn't much of a warrior or lover. He had to keep filling his need by finding his own worth -- fancied or real -- reflected in her. There was scant affirmation to be had from the world. But it was his life's blood, and he needed to glean it where he could. -- taking, taking, taking. Slim pickings. Margitte was theonly soul in the world he felt he truly gave himself to. Yet, some part of him he hid from himself knew that this obsession was deadly. It was going to take her down with him.Holding Margitte, Simon felt theoutward flow of sensation in timeless space. A muezzin's melodious evening call from a distant mosque summoning the faithful to the day's fifth and last prayer drifted to them on the scented night air. The soft haunting notes roused Simon, and he kissed Margitte onher forehead. "Time to --?" They stood up and went in. Oddly sedate now, they mounted the stairs arm in arm. There was a long hallway covered in faded carpet worn bare in front of every door. Simon stopped in front of 304 marked inbrass numerals. He fumbled with the brass key the concierge had given him, swung the heavy door open, and followed Margitte in.The room was palatial, wit more exquisite rugs as old as the long dead Empire. A wisp of smoke curled up into the dead air from a joss stick smouldering in a small brass holder on a low table, and a heavy perfume of incense overlay the smell of mould. The table had been carved in an intricate Tree of Life filigree design A brass vase beside the incense holder held a single narcissus in its slender stem, and behind it unmoving on the wall, a gecko held Simon and Margitte in its unblinking regard. Heavy faded burgundy drapes were drawn across large French doors openingonto a balcony. At the far end of the room a massive bed was covered by a canopy and enclosed with curtains, like a maharani's palanquin. A side curtain had been drawn back, and the sheets had been turned dow. They looked cool and fresh with promise. As Simon closed the door Margitte reached up, drawinghis face down to hers. The sudden intimacy of their mourths meeting, open and seeking, broke the dam of renunciation between past and present. They pressed hungrily into each other, desperate to cancel outall the years of emptiness that only they could fill for each other. Urgency now.A rustling frenzy to fight free of fabric. Shruggings out of, steppings out of. Their bodies hadn't forgotten each other's caresses. As it was in the beginning, their coupling was sweet with old splendour....

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