"In this stunning fast-paced thriller, the main character, 'Garth Hanson,' a down on his luck artist from San Francisco is blackmailed into making a copy of a world famous icon in Greece, and becomes inadvertently involved with a beautiful mysterious woman who propels him into a dizzying sphere of international intrigue, love and brutal murder. The colorful cast of characters all come to life in on the exotic jet set island of Mykonos for the suspense-filled ending where all characters converge for the purpose alone --- To steal a gem-studded icon worth millions--- The twist is, there's something more to the icon than jewels and diamonds, something of international import and dire consequence that could change the course of the world as we knew it!"

 

EXCERPT:

The sleek black Mercedes came to a screeching halt at the edge of the cliff. A harsh, faceless voice shouted, ‘Get out!’ The cold steel muzzle of a revolver pressed against Garth’s temple and he did as he was instructed, the pounding of his heart echoing the sound of waves crashing against the rocks in the darkness below. He shouted something and tried to make a run for it, but stumbled and was yanked back. Then, without warning, a harsh blow struck the back of his skull and his brain exploded like a thousand kaleidoscopes breaking into sharp fragments of colored glass. The horrific image of an evil spirit appeared, pointing an accusing finger. Then the beatific vision of a saint appeared shining in all His glory, but as the vision grew nearer, he finally saw it ... It was the Ikon ... It was the damned Ikon!

 

Chapter One:

BLADE MET BLADE in a flurry of scything steel, parries producing bright sparks, elegant in execution. The clashing sound of metal from agile thrusts accompanied the action, while sweat glistened from opponents, silently focused in anticipation of one another’s moves, waiting catlike ready for the kill.

Garth Hanson surveyed the scene, relishing the moment. The spacious fencing salon, converted from an old army gym on the US Army Presidio base was located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Here was where he worked out; fencing offered a salve to his worries, especially those creditors of his in Sausalito. The very thought of them added considerable thrust to his blade, much to the anguish of his opponents.

Once an affluent painter and gallery owner, debt had reduced his stature, although not his physical prowess. Years of fencing and love of sport and athletics had kept Garth’s tall, medium-built physique supple and toned. He wore his dark brown hair long, because he liked it that way and maybe because there was still a bit of the rebel left in him. Lately, he noticed a few grey hairs sprouting at the temples and began contemplating his mortality. He tried not to worry about his looks, though he always had a ready smile for the ladies. In that arena he had no problems and there were several women whose company he enjoyed from time to time, but after two failed marriages, and by the grace of god no children, he considered himself fortunate.

The real problem was his eyesight; he had glaucoma and was experiencing blurred vision with blind spots; one thing an artist didn’t need was to go blind. He was also an artist without an art gallery. The torrential storms which had struck California recently had ended in a deluge of landslides. Mud and water had been disastrous for the economy and he had lost his small art gallery in Sausalito. The fact was nobody was buying art any more; people were too busy trying to save their homes and businesses.

He was definitely in a slump, but hoped that he could somehow pull out of it. His headache from too much alcohol the night before wasn’t helping. Drinking seemed to ease his troubles, but he knew it was a temporary solution. Eventually he’d have to face his demons.

Despite his financial woes, he remained an active, esteemed member of the salon. Dues paid or not, he was allowed some reprieve thanks to the recognition he brought to the salon. As a past three-year Northern California Foil Champion, he had attained special privilege. Here at least, he could hold his head high apart from his own downward spiralling life.

Stepping down from the bleachers, he ran his fingers through his wavy hair. He was dressed in dazzling white fencing attire, vest fitted snugly over muscle and sinew, leather gauntlet and mask in one hand, foil in the other. Like the archetypal warrior of an age long forgotten, he cleaned his blade meticulously with an oilcloth. His right hand gently gripped the hilt with his calloused fingers and thumb. His turn was up at the pieste. He reached down into his equipment bag and touched the small black leather-bound Bible for good luck.

Upon hearing the shout of touché to his left, he paused and turned to investigate. The claim of victory was not one of polite triumph. As he looked he saw a boisterous young man in his late twenties with cropped blonde hair and acne-marred face. After berating the judges on their call, he pulled down his mask and continued the play. Bystanders around him watched, quietly betting money on the match.

Garth studied his moves; he was agile and assertive in approach. His attacks were unrelenting and lightening fast, at times catching his opponent off balance, and his defensive parries staid and confident. With more practice he could have been a contender to his own title. Within seconds his foil had found its mark. He shouted jubilantly, flinging his mask in the air carelessly, nearly hitting a bystander. The bout was his!

After the match there was a brief handshake, but the young man appeared unaware that he was still wearing his gauntlet. Hanson wandered over to him to be greeted by a smile of recognition. The man extended his gloved hand in friendship. Eyeing him curiously, Garth didn’t offer his hand in return. The fellow looked confused for a moment and tried to retain a cheerful demeanour.

‘Hanson, isn’t it? Foil, first division last year?’ he said in a loud voice as portentous as his attitude.

‘Do I know you; you the same guy that left the message..?’

THE IKON

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