Altar of Bones by Philip Carter

By Philip Carter

“They didn’t need to kill him…He by no means drank from the altar of bones.”  
Cryptic loss of life phrases from a murdered homeless girl in contemporary San Francisco release a decades-buried mystery that modified history.  Now a couple of ruthless assassins are despatched to chop the few residing "loose ends."  And a young, imaginitive lady at the run encounters a determined guy together with his personal hooked up prior and vengeful agenda.  pressured to partner for survival and solutions, a fast-paced and lethal online game of cat and mouse ensues, taking them around the globe from the winding streets of Paris to the faded palaces of Budapest to the frozen lakes of Mongolia...where future, passion, and further betrayal anticipate them.  
The Altar of Bones has all of it: The Russian mob.  KGB spies.  Presidential assasination.  A doomed Hollywood legend.  Deathbed confessions.  Corrosive power.  Shattered families.  Guardians of an ancient religious icon housing a mystery others will kill to possess.  The darkish promise of immortality. And it grants on its bold premise to go away you shocked and breathless on the finish.

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There was something odd in the smile I could not readily identify. Now, looking back with the clarity of hindsight, what I think flawed my father’s smile that morning was an instinct almost wholly alien to him. I think, now, what cramped that victorious smile was an unfamiliar hint of trepidation. This was immediately followed by another surprise. ‘I’d be grateful if you would drive me to the heliport, Martin,’ my father said. I nodded, rose and buttoned my coat, fingered the keys to my car and walked over and waited by the open office door while he granted a few quotes – gracious and witty, I was sure – to the lad from the local rag.

Their business was summoning to an undead state the corpses of the shipping world. They raised and reclaimed sunken craft, or they rescued abandoned boats, or they provided refuge and repair for the terminally damaged and the derelict. In their domain of piers and pilings by the sea, you could hear the sound of great and mysterious chains, moaning at the pull of stupendous tides. Amid the iron hulks and sodden timbers, you could half imagine Isambard Brunel in his stovepipe hat, slipping on leather-shod boots in the ooze in the hours before his catastrophic stroke.

It was a truth as plain as it was devastating. Years later, I heard that my father had subsequently given Winston Cory a job. More accurately, he had given him the sinecure that enabled Cory to train properly when he stepped up to international competition as reigning English champion. He held this fictitious position for a couple of years, apparently. He put the fact on record, thanking my father publicly, in a profile published in The Times when he came back from the Olympic Games with the silver medal he won there.

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