Three Friends, Two Countries, One Priceless jewel
1937 China; the Japanese Imperial Army is chewing up China. Three middle-aged friends, Westerners, who have lived in China for decades, are about to lose everything to the onslaught. Leave China or die. As their world collapses around them, a fur trader from New York, a Russian, and a Rabbi from Germany, learn that a race of Chinese Jews is about to become victims of a German and Japanese alliance to acquire a valuable ruby, supposedly hidden in their village of Kaifeng.
The three friends embark on one last adventure before leaving China, to save the Jews of Kaifeng and the jewel. Can they reach Kaifeng before the alliance bent on the destruction of the village gets to them? It’s a deadly pursuit across 1937 China, through Japanese controlled territory, Chinese bandits, and countless dangers and obstacles. The only clues to its location are written in a cryptic, twenty-year-old diary of a disillusioned Chinese Rabbi; the Journal of Rabbi Levy Wang. The three friends are tested to the extreme in a desperate attempt to warn their friends and find the jewel.
David Harris Lang, a current resident of Hong Kong, has lived and worked in Asia much of his life. Besides being a prolific author of Asian-based thrillers, he is an international architect who brings an indelible sense of place’ to his writing as well as a deep understanding of Asian cultures, locales, and customs. His vivid fight scenes come from a life-long practice of the martial arts.
As he ascended the mountain path, the flock of twenty-five fat tails walking before him, Moses used his shepherd’s staff to help navigate the steep trail. He had comfortably settled into the life of a shepherd. Three weeks after they had arrived in Medina, Aaron and Ebe had become betrothed, and Moses was delighted for his brother’s joy and his new family. Moses breathed deep, admiring the beauty of the scrubby pines, the blue sky, the warm temperature. Life was delicious. Suddenly, as if with one mind, his flock of sheep broke into a run and disappeared over the ridge. Moses picked up his pace in pursuit, wondering what had spooked them.
Reaching the top of the ridge, he still found himself alone, not a sheep in sight. The trail continued up to a higher ridge, so Moses, his concern increasing, followed the path higher up the mountain. For two hours he continued to ascend until there were no more ridges. He stood on a small plateau at the top of the mountain. Moses looked around and called out.
The view from the mountaintop was spectacular, but Moses, exhausted, frustrated, clothes wet with sweat, was not concerned with the view, only his missing flock.
He halted in sudden shock as he looked down at the ground around him. The plateau was littered with skeletons; tattered clothes and armor deteriorating around white bones, ancient swords and bows still clutched in their bony hands.
Who could these be? Moses thought. The skeletons, some with arrows still protruding from their breasts, indicated how fierce the ancient battle was. Moses stared at two skeletons entwined together, each with a sword in the other’s frame.
He then came upon one skeleton wearing the remnants of fine robes. The skull was about ten feet from the rest of the body, and Moses speculated that this was probably the decapitated leader of the losing side. In his hand was a staff. Moses took it from the skeleton’s grasp.
It was a magnificent staff, crafted of fine wood, precisely carved.
In the knob at the end was inlaid a hexagonal brilliant ruby. Moses dropped his own staff on the ground. This new staff felt so natural in his hands. “A shepherd could do great things with a staff like this,” Moses said out loud.
Looking up from the grisly bones around him, Moses saw his sheep. At last! The sheep were standing in a semicircle, staring at him expectantly, as if Moses was about to make a speech to them.
A large bush in the middle of the sheep circle suddenly burst into flames.
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