M. J. Rose The Memorist

ISBN 13: 9780778325840

The Memorist

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9780778325840: The Memorist

International bestseller M.J. Rose has written a gripping and unforgettable novel about a woman paralyzed by the past, a man robbed of his future, and a centuries old secret. The dreads are back. As a child, Meer Logan was haunted by memories of another time and place, always accompanied by the faint strains of elusive music. Now the past has reached out again in the form of a strange letter that sets her on a journey to Vienna to unlock the mystery of who she once was. With each step, she comes closer to remembering connections between a clandestine reincarnationist society, a lost flute linked to Ludwig van Beethoven, and David Yalom, a journalist who understands all too well how the past affects the future. David knows loss first hand--terrorism is a reality that cost him his family. He's seen every solution promised by security experts around the world--and he's seen every solution fail. Now, in a concert hall in Vienna, he plans to force the world to understand the cost of those failures in a single, violent act. Because those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it...

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About the Author:

M.J. Rose is the author of the national bestseller THE REINCARNATIONIST (now out as a Mira paperback) and eight other international bestselling novels, as well as the co-author of two non-fiction books on marketing. She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz.com. She runs two popular blogs: Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory. Please visit her at Reincarnationist.org and MJRose.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The souls must reenter the absolute from where they have emerged. They must develop all the perfections; the germ of which is planted in them; and if they have not fulfilled this condition during one life, they must commence another…until they have acquired the condition that fits them for reunion with God.

—Kabbalah (Zohar)

Vienna, Austria

Thursday, April 24th—5:00 p.m.

Beneath a dome nature had carved out of limestone, David Yalom circumnavigated the rim of the underground canyon without once glancing into its black crevasse. Nothing about his measured footsteps suggested he was aware of how dangerous the drop was even though only minutes before his guide had thrown a stone into the abyss that they'd never heard hit bottom. Finally, after four hours of rock climbing and trekking through the gloomy network of tubes and channels, wading through subterranean streams, crossing still pools studded with stalagmites and boiling lakes, he saw what he'd come here for. Up ahead on the right, exactly as Hans Wassong had described it, was a crude but massive arch cut into the rock, a cross roughly etched in the stone like some kind of religious graffiti.

"So this place you told me about really does exist." David laughed, but it was a bitter sound that, instead of suggesting humor, suggested there was none left anywhere in the world.

"I told you that you could trust me." To converse, these two men— the Israeli journalist and the Austrian felon—each spoke English with different but equally heavy accents. "This entire area is part of the larger tell site," Wassong continued.

"Tell site?" David's irrepressible curiosity got the better of him. He wasn't there as a reporter, but a lifetime of digging deep into every aspect of every story was a habit that died hard.

"A tell site," Wassong said, showing off, "is one that builds up in layers over time. A Jewish ghetto on top of a medieval city on top of an ancient Roman city. You'd have to raze all of Vienna's streets to chart this underground world of sewers, cellars and catacombs."

The area up ahead glowed in the beams of light streaming from the halogen lamps affixed to the men's helmets. Everywhere else fell off into shadow and interminable darkness; each step they took vanished behind them. The last few feet of the dangerous ledge rose steeply until finally they reached the entrance. Wassong walked under the low-hanging arch but David had to stoop to follow him into the crypt.

At the sound of their footsteps a rat, its red eyes flashing, vacated an infant-sized skull and darted off, disappearing into a pile of age-bleached bones.

The noise alerted David and he pulled his gun.

Wassong reached out and lowered the weapon for David. "No, you could set off an avalanche. We could be crushed to death and I prefer to be buried where my relatives can come visit."

All around them, intact skeletons rested in dozens of alcoves scooped out of the walls. Looking around the secret cemetery, David tried not to superimpose his own family's features on these bones— but failed. All dead had become his own dead, victims of his country's enemies' relentless efforts to commit genocide and the abysmal failure of those in charge to protect the innocent.

"Listen to these acoustics," Wassong said, and pointed to the ceiling as if it were possible to see the music filtering down. "Astonishing that the sound reaches down this far, isn't it?"

As the sour notes split the dank air, instead of violins tuning up, David heard an air raid siren before his brain acknowledged it was only an auditory mirage. He would kill to quell this constant onslaught of memories, except without them what would sustain him long enough for him to carry out his plan? Memory was a mystery. Why did he remember some moments—was even haunted by them—when others, desperate as he was to remember them—like the smell of his wife's hair—still eluded him?

"We're directly under Vienna's greatest concert hall now," Wassong explained as he took off his glasses and wiped them with a navy bandana. David had used the mannerism to characterize the man in the first article he'd written about him. After putting the glasses back on, Wassong pointed to the north wall, which had several fissures in it.

"This area abuts an ancient shaft that leads up to the building's sub-basement. The music is traveling through grates that were once part of an old heating system."

"And you're sure this area isn't mapped?"

A clash of cellos, horns, flutes and oboes struggled but was unable to settle into harmony. One instrument dominated, then another and then another, all together creating discordant aggregates the same way David's mind threw up distinct and separate memory snapshots. His wife's face a mass of bloody, unrecognizable horror. Then Lisle's face years before, laughing at one of his pathetic attempts to tell a joke on a lazy afternoon at the beach. His son, Isaac, at five, insisting on taking his bicycle to bed with him the first day he got it. Then the raw stump where Isaac's left foot used to be. And on and on. David counted each memory as if that proved something. But what? That he had once been a sane man living a purposeful life? Or that he had valid and palpable reasons for what he was planning?

Hans was still explaining: "From the middle ages on these caverns were mostly used as burial chambers until they became so unsanitary that in the 1700s Emperor Joseph the Second shut them down. Who would map tombs?"

"That doesn't look like an artifact from the 1700s." David pointed to a crushed olive-drab metal pail half buried in a corner of the grotto. He'd learned when he was a rookie reporter that details told the truth even when people lied.

"During World War II the government reopened a few sections as bomb shelters. When the buildings above them were hit, some of the caves collapsed. Hundreds of people were crushed to death, and our underground city was once again abandoned, considered unsafe. Except, for some of us, it's safer down here than up there, isn't it?"

David ignored the conspiratorial wink in Wassong's voice. "But there are people who know about this place?"

"There were, yes, but judging from the signs, no one has been here in decades. You can trust me on this, David. And you can also pay me. I believe that was our agreement. I deliver your site, you deliver my fee."

Ten years ago, while writing a story about the Eastern European illegal arms market, David had met Hans Wassong, who'd been on Interpol's watch list for decades, suspected of kidnapping, manslaughter and trafficking of both weapons and explosives. Over the years, the journalist had gained the criminal's trust and used him as a source. Now their positions were reversed. David wasn't reporting on a story this time; he was going to be the story and Wassong was the one who could expose him.

Unzipping his dark green knapsack, David pulled out the thick envelope and handed it to Wassong, who opened it, counted through the pile of two-hundred-euro notes, then wordlessly stuffed the envelope inside his jacket pocket and patted it down. "So tell me, when will you have everything arranged?"

"By Monday or Tuesday."

"You'll move down here then?" Wassong's question sounded like urging.

"What have you heard? Is there any new chatter?"

"Tangentially. Ahmed Abdul has been spotted in Serbia."

Serbia was slightly more than 500 kilometers away. Two thousand kilometers closer to Vienna than Palestine. Was it a coincidence? David had covered every International Security and Technology Association conference since 1995, and it would have been simple for the terrorist to confirm David was reporting on ISTA again this year and follow him to Vienna.

"You know you're still on their list, don't you?" Wassong asked when David didn't respond.

"Of course." The tone he used to acknowledge he was being hunted was the same as the one he would use to acknowledge his profession as a reporter.

The orchestra finished tuning up and launched into the stormy and heroic opening of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

"Fate is knocking at the door," Wassong said.

"What?"

"One day Beethoven pointed to the opening of the first movement of this symphony and said to his secretary—'Thus Fate knocks at the door.'"

"You surprise me, Hans. An arms dealer, cartographer, spelunker and now I find you're a Beethoven scholar too?"

"It's difficult to live in Vienna and not soak up the musical lore."

For a few minutes the cold stones turned into plush red chairs, gilt molding edged the rock walls and the crypt became a concert hall as two men listened to a symphony, lost in its sound. David's wife had especially loved the Fifth. Shutting his eyes, he allowed himself the indulgence of memory.

"Are you all right?" Wassong asked.

The music rose to a crescendo that filtered down to the bowels of the earth, reaching his core. David didn't hear Wassong's question. At least, he was thinking, next week, when they were all ushered out of this world it would be on the wings of music that belonged to the angels.

"How far down are we?" David asked, back to business.

"Twelve or fourteen meters," Wassong said. "Too deep for ground-penetrating radar to find you and the perfect place to plant your explosives. Right here, right where we are standing. Nothing—not the building, not the audience—will survive the attack. You have to admit, it's an excellent spot, no?"

New York City

Thursday, April 24th—11:00 a.m.

Meer ran down the steps of the Natural History Museum on Central Park West, scanning the street for a cab even before she reached the sidewalk. When she didn't spot one, she decided it would be just as fast to walk the six blocks to the Phoenix Foundation. She shouldn't have agreed to leave work in the middle of the morning but Malachai Samuels wasn't an easy man to say no to. Part shaman, part therapist, part confessor, even when he'd been unable to find answers he'd always been there to help her through the dark nights and lonely days, to soothe her fears and assuage her sadness.

On the ...

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