Maxim Gunn and Sheba's Necklace
Did Wanda Liszt finally find the secret to eternal life when she recovered Sheba's Necklace from the bottom of a Swiss lake? “It should have worked, Maxim.” Wanda's words came out huskily and with great effort. “It did for a while, didn't it? I was going to be young and beautiful forever. The flame, the necklace, they were the secret. It should have worked. Where did I go wrong?” More
Maxim Gunn was not amused when Sir Richard Trelawney showed him a photo of the Great Snake of Sheba. Wanda Liszt was dead. He knew she was. He’d killed her, buried her under a cliff that had hidden the Tomb of Gilgamesh. And the Snake, the fabulous rope of pure emeralds said to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba, was at the bottom of a Swiss Lake. Gunn knew that too because he’d put it there.
But it appeared she was alive. McCreedy the grizzled ex-hunter had seen her a week earlier in Nairobi. It seemed the devil had not claimed his own at the Great Tomb of Gilgamesh. The woman was alive, and she had the Snake, again.
Wanda Liszt has an obsession, she dreams of power, power so huge it defied the imagination. She wants Africa, nearly twelve million square miles, over a billion people, and riches beyond compare. And with the Great Snake of Sheba as her talisman, she just might achieve it. But first she needs to bathe in the Green Fire, to find the immortality she so desperately craves.
“Do not look for the great Cave of the Winds on any map for you will not find it. However that does not mean it does not exist: it simply means that it is hidden from the eyes of all but those who have reason to know.” So said McCreedy, and after a lifetime in the North West Frontier District of Kenya, if anyone should know it would be him.
Gunn finds Wanda Liszt in Venice, where they have a civilized dinner and he gets shot at. And then it’s on to Sicily and an assassin’s attack in which he neatly turns the tables before following the trail to a Templar Castle where he witnesses an incredible magical transformation in which Wanda appears to take on the persona of a three-thousand-year-old Egyptian priestess.
In Cairo he has dinner with Oksana, High Priestess of the Temple of Am-mut, the Devourer, the Eater of the Souls of the Dead, who looks a hell of a lot like Wanda. And then the race is on as the trail of breadcrumbs left by one of Wanda’s entourage, a punk killer for hire called Sadie.
And that’s where it starts to get even more interesting. Moonlight racing along the Nile on the wonderful mare, Sheba, a fight to the death in the Crocodile Temple of Am-mut, and a hair raising ambush. And that’s just for starters as Gunn hasn’t got close to his goal.
Gunn is mystified, but follows the trail, which takes him south along the Nile, to Khartoum, to a monk’s cell on Lake Tana and a flight with a black Texan pilot named Louis Beauregard, who takes him to the western shores of Lake Turkana, the Emerald Sea, and finally to the Northwest Frontier District of Kenya, a land where the impossible is commonplace, and danger is a constant companion.
Out of the blue of a shimmering heat haze appears a warrior monk, Omar, who knows of Gunn and his mission, and tells him it has been foretold that he would stop Wanda’s mad dreams of empire.
Together they cross some seriously bad land, scale impossible cliffs, and finally, after travelling down a road to nowhere laid by no one knows who, they look down on the mouth of the Cave of the Winds and see the start of the gathering of the kings and chiefs of all the tribes of Africa, who are coming to pay homage to Oksana the High Priestess and Empress.
Destiny awaits. The odds are enormous, the chance of success microscopic, but Maxim Gunn only knows that he must stop her before it is too late.
Oksana presents herself to the assembled chiefs, the great Green Fire roars, waiting or accept or reject her as She Who Must be Obeyed in another incarnation...And Gunn attacks, with Omar at his side and the surprising reappearance of Sadie who joins the fight like a tigress. And then there is the great magnificent Zulu, M'hlopekazi with his bloody axe cutting a swathe through the masses.
Finally Gunn escapes with Oksana and on the moonlit plains of Northern Kenya, far below the Cave of the Winds, the story comes to a touching and surprising end.