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The Empress Holds The Key takes the reader on an exciting journey of discovery where the stakes are high, the rewards great, but where the price of failure is oblivion. It is a quest for the ultimate prize in archaeology – a holy relic that has mysteriously disappeared from the pages of history.
The story begins in the ruins of a cottage destroyed by bushfire in the Blue Mountains in Australia, visits many countries, and explores intriguing chapters of the past. These include the reign of Akhenaten – the heretic king of ancient Egypt, the time of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the terror of the Inquisition, the fall of the Knights Templar and the death camps of war ravaged Europe.
Locations, such as exclusive London auction houses, the monuments of Egypt, a forgotten mass grave in Austria, the notorious tango clubs of Buenos Aires and a remote village in Papua New Guinea, add colour to the journey, which reaches its dramatic conclusion at the hidden tomb of a legendary African king in the highlands of Ethiopia.
The Empress Holds The Key weaves fact and fiction into an adventure of epic proportions as it follows the lives of a handful of diverse individuals tied together by destiny and fate. Marcus Carrington QC, criminal barrister and amateur archaeologist, finds his life abruptly altered when he meets Jana Gonski, an Australian Federal Police Officer on the trail of a suspected Nazi war criminal.
When Carrington’s wife and daughter are killed by terrorists in Egypt, he is irresistibly drawn into the quest. With the help of journalist Jack Rogan, they unravel an intricate web of intrigue and greed spanning more than half a century. Secret hoards of Nazi gold and Swiss bank accounts belonging to holocaust victims implicate Sir Eric Newman, who is accused of war crimes and sent to trial. His daughter, Dr Rosen, a famous healer and philanthropist, comes to terms with her father’s Nazi past and joins the quest.
A unique exhibit is tendered in evidence during Sir Eric’s trial and at long last gives up its secrets, pointing the way to a lost relic, hidden from the princes of the Church by the Knights Templar some 700 years ago. This holy relic has a profound secret of its own that has Rome trembling with fear. Cardinal Brandauer and his fanatical Ethiopian priest, Habakkuk, use all the might and influence of the Vatican to prevent this shocking find from threatening the very foundations of Christianity. Meanwhile, Sheikh Omar, the founder and spiritual leader of a radical Muslim terrorist group, is also lusting after the holy relic, which he sees as a source of immense power. A ruthless, western-educated Egyptian he is intelligent, embittered and determined to succeed at all cost.
This self-styled Defender of the Faith must face his nemesis at the very moment the object of his life’s work is finally within his grasp. Caught up by twists of chance and circumstance, Benjamin Krakowski, holocaust survivor and celebrated composer, discovers his true identity buried in the recesses of Sir Eric’s dark past. Honouring his newly-discovered-grandfather’s wish, he sets out to return the holy relic to where it belongs – a secret hiding place in darkest Africa– out of reach of those who merely seek its legendary power, or want to deny the truth.