An elusive killer...a deadly obsession...and a woman who must destroy him--or become his next victim.
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December 31, 1990
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Excerpt from Reap the wind by Iris Johansen
St. Basil, Switzerland
June 14, 1991
The jeweled eyes of the Wind Dancer, secret, enigmatic, inhumanly patient, gazed out of the black and white photograph at Alex Karazov.
The uncanny impression that a mysterious sentience exuded from the statue had to be a trick of light the lens had captured. Alex shook his head. Impossible. But now he could understand the statue's mystique and the stories that had grown up around it. The book he held was over sixty years old and the picture probably didn't even do the statue justice. He skimmed the caption beneath the picture.
"The Wind Dancer, recognized as one of the most valuable art objects in the world. The famous 'eyes of the Wind Dancer' are two perfectly matched almond-shaped emeralds 65.50 carats each. Four hundred and forty-seven diamonds encrust the base of the winged statue of Pegasus.
"In her book Facts and Legends of the Wind Dancer, published in 1923, Lily Andreas claimed there were historical references indicating the Wind Dancer had been in the possession of Alexander the Great during his first campaign in Persia in 323 b.c.; later, it was said to have passed to Charlemagne during his reign. Andreas's book was the subject of controversy. She claimed that a host of the most influential figures throughout the ages had not only possessed the Wind Dancer but asserted that it had contributed decisively to their success or failure. Both the antiquity of the statue and its history were challenged by the London and Cairo museums at the time."
Alex impatiently closed Art Treasures of the World, pushing it aside as Pavel set a stack of five more volumes on the desk. He already knew the contents of Lily Andreas's book. He remembered Ledford quoting it chapter and verse as if it were the Bible.
Pavel raised one bushy black brow. "No luck?"
Alex shook his head. "Too early. I need facts, not legends." He reached for the top book on the stack, flipped it open to the index, ran his finger down the chapter headings until he found the one labeled "Wind Dancer," then thumbed to the correct page. "For God's sake, you'd think the damn statue had disappeared from the planet." Speed-reading through the chapter, he muttered, "At least this book gets us out of the roaring twenties. It mentions the Wind Dancer's confiscation by the Germans in 1939 and its discovery in Hitler's mountain retreat after World War Two." He slammed the book shut. "But I'm wasting time. Call the curator of the Louvre and--"
"Ask where the Wind Dancer is now," Pavel finished for him. He shook his head, an amused grin creasing his weathered, heavily jowled face. "You know, of course, they'll probably try to trace the call and notify Interpol. I imagine the management of the Louvre is a bit touchy since they 'lost' the 'Mona Lisa' yesterday."