Authors: Frederick Ramsay
Tags: #Mystery & Detective
|The Eighth Veil|
|Number II of|
|Perfect Niche (2012)|
|Tags:||Mystery & Detective|
|Mystery & Detectivettt|
The Eighth Veil is a mystery set in the year 28 CE in Jerusalem during the feast of Tabernacles. A murdered servant girl is found in the palace of King Herod Antipas. The Prefect, Pontius Pilate is in attendance. The populace is still buzzing over the brutal death of one of their Prophets, John, known familiarly as the Baptizer, and scandal is in the air. Pilate wants no trouble and insists an independent investigation into the murder be made. Antipas will have none of Pilate's men in the palace and Pilate doesn't trust Antipas. Gamaliel, the chief rabbi and head of the Sanhedrin is coerced by Pilate to do the detective work. Gamaliel is a Talmudic scholar, not a sleuth, and at first struggles. But as he learns more of the dead girl's background and that of the other major players in the drama, particularly Menahem, Antipas' foster brother, he soon becomes eon over to the process and, Sherlockian-like, begins to fit the pieces together. Or, as his "Watson" Loukas says, strips the veils from his personal Salome. The girl turns out not to be the mere servant everyone assumed, in spite of his impatience with the pace and direction of the investigation Pilate is rewarded and the fascinating, little told but critically entwined, histories of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Herod the Great, Anthony and Augustus Caesar, and the Battle of Actium suddenly seems more relevant to the Gospel narratives than anyone might have previously imagined. Meanwhile, the figure of Jesus, the rabbi from Nazareth, with his ragged band of enthusiasts and his habit of annoying Caiaphas, the High Priest, moves enigmatically in the background.
The Eighth Veil
A Jerusalem Mystery
Poisoned Pen Press
Copyright © 2012 by Frederick Ramsay
First Edition 2012
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2011933444
ISBN: 9780967759050 Hardcover
ISBN: 9781615953356 epub
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.
The historical characters and events portrayed in this book are inventions of the author or used fictitiously.
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The faculty at Saint George’s College Jerusalem
Wherever you are.
A little over twenty years ago my wife and I had the good fortune to spend not quite three weeks in Israel and particularly Jerusalem as students at Saint George’s College. The course of study was entitled, if memory serves,
The Palestine of Jesus.
As students, we traveled about the country and city with the guidance of an excellent international faculty and were taught how to peel away the years and the strife that characterizes that land and its history, to see it as it must have been two millennia ago. To say the experience at Saint George’s was life changing would be a gross understatement. During the decade or so that followed, we were privileged to visit Israel another five times, either leading groups or simply touring on our own.
In this book I have attempted to capture some of that experience and depict an Israel as it once was. Obviously it is a book of fiction, but some of the characters did, in fact, walk the streets of Jerusalem two thousand years ago, did see the sun rise and set on its dun-colored limestone buildings, and knew in their time the people we only meet in the Bible, Shakespeare’s plays, or films.
When I preached (that would have been in another life, of course) I used to ask the congregation to picture the scene just read from the day’s Gospel as if they were present in that dusty street, house, hillside, or synagogue, standing shoulder to shoulder with the people who’d just heard the words for the first time. To grasp the teaching inherit in the reading, I maintained, one must hear it with the ears of the first century Jews living in a Galilee or Judea occupied by Rome and divided by sectarian differences. Differences in what was meant to be Jewish in search of a Messiah, differences in what constituted correct practice, differences in how to cope with yet another conqueror in a long line of overlords that stretched back as far as memory served. Modern readers, I maintain, must strip away prejudices gained over a lifetime of Sunday school and imagine what it must have been like for those first witnesses. What thoughts must have gone through their minds, what fears, what doubts, and what hopes?
I have attempted to do that with this little mystery—to draw a picture of another time and place but with a few familiar characters.
And, having set the scene, I must now acknowledge the people who helped me do it: Everyone at The Poisoned Pen Press, Barbara, Robert, Nan, Jessica, and all of you who help make my life a delight. Also, thanks to the folks, near and far, who make me look better than I really am; Glenda, who peruses these words and blue pencils my most egregious errors; and Susan, who attempts (and fails) to instruct me in Hebrew but lets me play at being an author anyway.
I want to also send a nod to Tom Stone, who shared a substantial portion of our youth at McDonogh School with me and whose book,
reminded me of the complexities of Greek mythology foisted on us in those days. I have attached notes sections in two places—immediately following, and at the end of the book. I must thank Julie Waskow and Ernie Bringas from the Philosophy Department at Glendale Community College for their help in vetting them. I hope they will help the reader appreciate the times and the personalities of that era, and at least keep some of the characters straight.
You might want to fasten a tab or paperclip or two at various places in those sections to serve as a quick reference.
—Frederick Ramsay 2012
The family tree of Herod the Great is depicted below. It is a composite of several similar schemes and should not to be considered as either definitive or necessarily accurate. For the purposes of this narrative the featured players in the book are set in bold.