Sneak Peek: “The Key of Solomon”

Hey Gang:

I’ve been pretty mum lately, but that’s just because I’ve been hard at work on my latest book. It’s called The Key of Solomon, and it’s the sequel to Salome’s Charger, the Christian suspense novel that Celeste Walker and I had an opportunity to work on back in 2015. This one sends Dr. Madelyn Simms to Egypt to look for the fabled Key of Solomon, which some believe the wisest man of all time used to compile all the occult knowledge of the ancient world. It’s set for release at Christmas, 2017, so watch for it. In the meantime, here’s a scene where J.J. Vanderpool, former SAS agent and “expediter” goes looking for Dr. Simms to make sure she is continuing her work on translating a manuscript:

J.J. finished his conversation with Mr. Target, then returned to the building. He went directly to the clean room to make sure that Dr. Simms was back at work. He looked in the ready room, but didn’t see her in there, so assumed she was in the clean room. He went to the window overlooking the clean room, but couldn’t see her in it at all.

Thinking she might have gone to the women’s restroom, he went there. He didn’t wait to see if she came in or went out, but barged in himself. The light was off but he went ahead and checked all the stalls, which were empty. He then returned to the clean room.

The glass door that led to the clean room was locked on the outside. He pounded on the door, but no one answered. He pounded again. Finally he turned and marched down to Dr. Hassan’s office. He slowed outside the office as he heard Hassan on the phone inside. He had not let Maddie and the others know, but he was also fluent in Arabic, and listened to the conversation that the curator was apparently having with the police.

“Yes, I understand that there are many emergencies happening. Yes, I understand that it is four-thirty in the morning. But I am after all the head curator of Biblioteca Alexandrina and my life has been threatened along with the life of a guest from America. All that I am asking is that you send two policemen over for a few days for our protection. Yes, I will hold.”

J.J. backed up in the hallway and began to whistle, giving Hassan advance warning that he was coming, and he heard him hang up the receiver. He turned the corner and entered the office. Hassan stood, white-faced, behind his desk.

“What’s the matter, Dr. Hassan?”

“What? Why nothing?” Hassan said nervously. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m looking for our Dr. Simms,” J.J. said coolly. “I didn’t see her in the clean room, and everything is locked up.”

“Perhaps she went to the women’s room,” Hassan said.

J.J. shook his head. “Tried that too.” He bent forward as if to look behind Hassan’s desk. “You wouldn’t be trying to hide her there behind your desk, would you?”

Hassan smiled nervously. “I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”

J.J. raised an eyebrow. “Who were you on the phone with?”

“The telephone?”

J.J.’s smile faded. “Yes, the telephone!” he shouted. “You were calling the police! Here I thought we had an understanding. You give me what I want and we all go away happy. Now it looks like I need to get ugly. Now where is Dr. Simms?” He took a step forward and pounded on Hassan’s desk.

“Do you feel that?” J.J. said to Dr. Hassan, who stood inches away from him, sweat dripping off his forehead, a mouse trapped by an oversized, hungry cat.

“I live for this moment. I savor this moment. This is the moment when a man decides what kind of man he is. Is he going to try to save himself, or is he going to die for something larger than himself? Is he going to try to save someone else? Or is he going to take the coward’s way out?”

J.J. stared at Hassan, who struggled to return the young man’s stare. Sweat stained his shirt, his tie was askew, his hair stood on end. And J.J. was right.

“Tell you what,” J.J. said. He reached into his coat and pulled out an 9mm Glock automatic pistol. He levered the action back, cocked it and lay it on the desk beside them. “Let’s make this sporting. You grab the gun and shoot me before I kill you and, well, you win. There’s already one in the chamber. The hammer’s back. All you have to do is pull the trigger. On the other hand, I have to find another way to kill you. Oh, I almost forgot…” He took his dagger out of his sheath and lay it on the desk as well. “Sorry.”

Hassan stared at J.J., thirty years younger than him, trained as a killer, and much more in shape. The odds were against Hassan, significantly so. But he did have a chance. His hands shook. J.J. stared at him.

“Come on, old man,” J.J. said. “Come on!”

Hassan’s hands twitched, then jumped.

Sorry I couldn’t share more, but you will hear bits and pieces in days to come. Let me know what you think.