||Durban House Publishing Co.
||Jan 1 2002
A retired Air Force investigator faces the dilemma of how to save his wife from terrorists while preventing a new conflagration in the Middle East.
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Chester D. Campbell
Greg and Jill McKenzie's pilgrimage to the Holy Land propels them into an unholy nightmare when they are unwittingly used to smuggle an ancient parchment scroll into the States. When Greg doesn't return the scroll to the Palestinian terrorists who set up the scam, they take his wife hostage.
The document gives the location of invaluable gold lampstands from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. Things get really out of hand when agents of an extreme right-wing Israeli organization jump into the fray.
A retired Air Force criminal investigator, Greg must reach deep into his bag of tricks in an attempt to thwart first one group and then the other as his wife's life hangs in the balance. The trail switches back and forth across Nashville as Greg uses his skills to combat the shadowy threat. Then the plot takes an unexpected twist. Just as one group appears eliminated, the other makes a diabolical move that puts Greg on a collision course with calamity.
As he leaned into the van, I wondered how he knew we were on the final leg of our tour. Our bus driver or another passenger had probably mentioned it. Also I had a vague impression I had seen this face before. He appeared to be Arabic, but Jews and Arabs had descended from the same Semitic line. I had been trained to remember facial features, and memories of September 11 had kept me alert during our two weeks in the Holy Land. I watched as the souvenir seller held out a miniature Dead Sea Scroll jar, opened the lid and lifted up a paper scroll.
"Just like parchment...real Hebrew writing," he said. "The one you get is all packed secure. Because I need to make haste home, everything is now bargain price."
The locks on Greg and Jill McKenzie’s luggage were removed at some point
on their way home from a
vacation in the Middle East. The guided tour had gone quite well for the tour group; they enjoyed the Mediterranean and the ages old biblical sights. But tours must
eventually end and the time arrives for the
McKenzie’s to return home to Nashville, Tennessee, in the good ole USA. Although Greg did become a little
suspicious when he was the only one in the group that was told to put
his name on his luggage tag in huge, bold letters when boarding the plane for home. Greg is a retired Air Force officer who worked on the ground in the OSI – Office of Special Investigations, so he just sloughed off his suspicions as being an old habit and tried to dismiss it from his mind. But now at Kennedy International when the
locks were discovered missing, his
curiosity was again piqued.
First the large name on the luggage, now the missing locks. Maybe his
suspicions are founded after all. Authorities were notified and a quick riffle through their bags showed nothing missing that they could tell.
Greg advised Jill that they would do a more thorough job of checking for
missing items when they got home.
Greg’s close friend, Sam Gannon, usually has a million and one war
stories that he likes to relate over and over, time and again. On one of Greg’s visits to Sam’s all track of time
was lost and resulted in Greg being
over an hour
late after the time he told Jill he would be home. Upon entering the back entrance to his home from the garage he was met with total chaos. His OSI training kicked in and he started
adding things together: Annoying
incidents in the Holy Land; being singled out at the border; the large, identifying name on the luggage tag; the missing locks from the luggage. After searching the entire house
upstairs and down, he knew Jill had been
kidnapped. He read several little clues that were left behind by Jill
that told him she had been taken against her will. Little things that Jill knew only he could recognize,
and therefore not alert the kidnappers.
He reported the kidnapping to the Metro Police, then sat by the phone waiting for the call he felt sure would
come. It finally did. A strange voice demanded to know where the scroll
was. The scroll? That cheap imitation
that he paid four dollars for at a souvenir stand? Or was it an imitation? Obviously someone must not think so.
Thus Greg has to pull himself out of retirement into one of the most
emotional cases he has ever worked on.
Using some of his old contacts, he tries to have the scroll deciphered,
while at the same time trying to find
The conflict between deadly groups of Palestinians and deadly groups of
Israelis who both claim ownership to
the scroll have Greg caught in the middle with Jill’s life at stake. He
has a long row to hoe with many dangers
confronting him, Jill, and his friends that necessitate another trip to
the Holy Land; something Greg hoped
would not have to happen. Women were not the most respected people over
there so his fear for Jill escalated
And how was one to begin searching in a strange land for a missing
This is a superbly written book with an excellent plot. The action is on going and riveting. The characters walk off the page to the reader, and one can see them as they act out the
story. There is no clothes-line effect in this
story. It moves along smoothly with plenty of excitement. This one is a
keeper for sure.
Mr. Campbell has imparted a lot of interesting information without
sounding like a history book. In fact if
school history books were written like this every student would be a
Shirley Truax, All About Murder Reviews
Excellent Thread of Tension
Secret of the Scroll is a thriller mystery about a retired Air Force OSI agent, Colonel Greg McKenzie, who unknowingly is sold an ancient parchment scroll, which a Palestinian terrorist group wants smuggled into America. When he doesn't give it back to them in the States, they kidnap his wife and hold her in ransom for the artifact, which reveals the location of very valuable temple lamps. Circumstances quickly escalate to an international incident level when an extreme right-wing Israeli group also becomes involved. Can he save his wife and abort World War III at the same time?
The author is a retired journalist and political speechwriter (which means he's experienced at writing fantasy). His book is published by one of my favorite small publishers, Durban House. He develops a slightly flawed protagonist, teaches the reader about the roles of an OSI agent and the dangers of Air Force politics, and produces an excellent thread of tension, which could snap at any time. He uses the differences among Jews, Islamics, and Christians in the Holy Land to good effect. We rated this book four hearts.
Bob Spear, Heartland Reviews
A mystery thriller that will grab you and keep you turning the pages!
Colonel Greg McKenzie and his wife are on a trip to the Holy Land, now that the Colonel is retired from the Air Force where he was an investigator; they are going all the places they never got to go. The Colonel is on edge, he just stopped smoking, and his language is colorful, due in part to the nerves that are on edge from nicotine withdrawal and the never-ending heat.
A young student of archaeology goes out one morning by himself and discovers a cave with a jar in it. When he opens the ancient jar, he finds a scroll. He knows this is an important find and he should turn it over to the head of the expedition he is with. Instead he decides to smuggle it to Palestine. There he will have a friend translate it and then he will present it to the world as his great discovery. Everything goes smoothly until the border, there his friend meets him and when he gets into the car, he promptly removes his shirt to retrieve the scroll, which he has secured to his body. What he doesn't know is that a guard sees him disrobing and becomes supicious. The guard reports this along with the car's plate number and description of both driver and smuggler.
This starts a chain of events that lead to the Colonel and his wife unknowingly smuggling the scroll out of the Middle East. When the Palestinians discover this, they kidnap Mrs. McKenzie and hold her for ransom of the scroll.
All of the Colonel's expertise will be needed to find and free his wife, while keeping the scroll safe.
This is a fast exciting read. It grabs you and won't let go, I couldn't put it down. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Judith Saul, The Best Reviews
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Chester D. Campbell