Here is a sample of "Stonecypher Road"

"The text is only part of it. There's this sign or symbol here." Morris pointed to the line construction that bore some resemblance to an elaborate Knights Templar cross. "This is what's gonna keep us busy for a good while," he said. "Somehow this thing got translated in the old legends into something called, ิthe ancient sacred geometry.' I have no clue about what that means. But I think our next big adventure will be to find out."

Once again, he was leading her toward false-comforting naive underestimation.

Ida Jo felt tested. There was just no other way to put it. The death of her mother, if not to be embraced, was at least something to be accepted, fitting the way it did, with inevitability, into the natural rhythms of life. In a very real sense, however, Ida Jo had lost her best female friend. The placing of the cremated ashes into the Atlantic should have been the end of her test, but then the next day she had found herself being examined like a bug under the microscope by twin pairs of binocular lenses, glowing like devil eyes in the authoritative hands of dragoons who looked like they meant business. She had watched her husband put the petrol to the Lexus to outrun a sedan in imagined hot pursuit, a scene that had reminded her of Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra.

Back in Maquoketa, birthplace of the little policeman, her family philanthropic offering of two grand had been met with suspicions of unspecified library computer malfeasance, as she had watched her own husband tap-dance his way out of a government investigation, demonstrating in the process an unimagined capability for mendacity. Even her own bed of innocence, in her first years of marriage, now turned out to have been unknowingly shared with a husband concealing top secrets, working clandestinely on some technogadget called a Lucifer chip, named in honor of the Prince of Darkness himself, and undoubtedly listed in the electronic components catalog under the product number 666. Such lunacy would have been appropriate.

And then there was the crystal skull which rested alternately on the coffee table and the basement workbench. In the catalytic past couple of days she had seen its secrets peeled away like the layers of Richard Mazaro's onion, revealing in itself a lens of extraordinary optical complexity concealing a code of ingenious composition that quite possibly held the arcanum arcanorum. The thing about artifacts and relics from antiquity was that they were generally understood like palm trees in Greenland. Everybody, including the archeologists with few exceptions, had a rough idea how they should look despite the cloak of personal firsthand unfamiliarity. But in the last couple of days, that cloak had been pulled away for Ida Jo, and she now understood more about ancient relics than any rank amateur could hope to normally know.

All this had come her way, cascading with unpredictability, to so contaminate her normal clockwork that she would now have been unfazed if Katy Couric and David Letterman were to suddenly come knocking on the back door, asking to borrow her husband for a while to use as a figurative punching bag on their television shows. If that happened, she calculated that she would send him on his way.


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