PAPERBACK BOOKS
Silent Prayers

When Jim Thompson, a bored desk clerk who works for ASIO receives a strange phone call from an old friend in Cairo, he becomes embroiled in a top-draw international mystery. Teaming up with an Australian woman Julie Murray, who is also looking for Ahmed the two find themselves on a life threatening chase across Egypt. After being fired upon by who they believe to be Islamic Fundamentalists they get swept away in an adventure of secret microfilm, national security issues and romantic revenge with the PLO and an assassin in hot pursuit.

"Like a good Alistair McLean thriller, SILENT PRAYERS is fabulous, action-packed, terse dialogue and believable characters throughout."
David Hepplewhite, US Times Bestseller List

 

In Store Price: $AU21.95 
Online Price:   $AU20.95

ISBN: 1 920699 02 3
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 309
Genre: Fiction
 
 

Author: Ken Sloane
Imprint: Zeus
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:July 2002
Language: English

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Dedication

I would like to thank Julie Murphy, Jenny Wheeler and Patricia Olei for being my inspiration and my friends.Kate Tamou, Casey Hart, Jenny Gray and Linda Harvey for encouraging and believing in me.
Phil Miller, for showing me a better way.

 
 

About the author

Ken Sloane was born in the small western NSW town of Wellington in 1960. After finishing High School he moved to Sydney where he lived for four years. His job, in one of the major banks then had transferred around numerous country towns, finally settling in Goulburn. 

After his marriage break down, Ken resigned from work and bought a one-way ticket to Cairo. Back-packing through Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda and Zimbabwe for six months showed Ken a different world, a different way of life, of culture. In Africa, time is not a thing which the locals are concerned about. A bus comes when it comes, a train leaves when it leaves, it goes or it doesn’t and there is nothing anyone can do about it. 

Needless to say it was here Ken learned patience and with time on his hand and a story ticking over in his mind, put pen, or should I say pencil to paper and created the first draft of Silent Prayers. He returned to Australia after seeing a great deal of poverty, starvation and the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda. But he was restless, he now had the travel bug and a manuscript, though complete in itself, did not tie up the loose ends. 

After two years he packed up again and this time headed for Vietnam. This trip gave him the idea for the conclusion of the tale, however work commitments did not allow it to be written. Another year passed and Ken was transferred to Sydney where he went to Macquarie University and studied Anthropology and Archaeology, subjects he hopes to continue in the future. 

It wasn’t until a recent trip to Palawan, in wilds of the Philippines did Ken find time to finally write the conclusion to Silent Prayers.

Ken now lives in Toowoomba, Queensland and has completed the research for, and started another novel. His travels have given him ideas for settings, incorporating the local knowledge and legends into his stories. Again the wanderlust is calling and he hopes his next trip takes him to South America and Cuba.

Chapter One

The sun was rising, its golden glow creeping over the flat horizon, as the captain announced we would be landing in Cairo in fifteen minutes. It had been a long flight and I was looking forward to a hot shower and a bed bigger than the cramped confines of a second-class airline seat. 

Mid-January can be a bit cool in Egypt so I decided to don my jumper knowing full well we may have to walk across the tarmac to reach immigration and customs. John, my fellow passenger, stirred from his semi-slumber looking like an Irish wolf-hound with glasses, his hair a mess, glasses askew, mouth wide open catching non-existent flies. Being tall and ungainly added to the attractive look. 

“Fifteen minutes to landing," I informed him.

“Oh shit!”

He hurriedly started to fill out his immigration card that the stewardess had left.

“You should have woken me earlier.”

“And stop the other passengers taking your photo, no way.”

“That bad, eh,” looking abashed

“Not a pretty sight, though twenty-four hours on a plane can do that to the best of us”

“Yeah, you're not looking too good yourself.”

I supposed I didn't at that. Though not as tall as John, I was average height. Short people called me tall, tall people called me short.

The dreaded middle-age spread had not yet appeared, but it was lying there, dormant, waiting to pounce at the first opportunity and after what I had been through the last couple of months, it didn't have long to wait. I wasn't handsome by a long shot, although in moments of passion I had been called ruggedly handsome: homely might be a better description. The frown creases created by the pressures of my last job offset the laugh lines around my face, a job I was only too glad to be rid of for good.

The plane touched down with a thud while John was still trying to organise his money to thwart would-be thieves. 

“Can't be too careful,” he said as he tucked some U.S. dollars into both socks. 

“This‘ll be safe here,” tapping his crotch where the Visa card was tastefully hidden.

We said our goodbyes before leaving the plane, as it would be unlikely we would see each other again in the clamour of immigration.

“Have a great holiday mate,” he said, the way you say to a person you’ve only known for twenty-four hours, but to whom you have told each other your life stories. We swapped addresses and promised to look each other up, if in town, at the time genuinely meaning it, but knowing the chances were remote.

“By the way, you never did tell me why you decided to come to Egypt.”

“Just visiting an old friend of the family.” 

“Well all the best.”

The passengers started to filter out of the plane and across the tarmac to the waiting buses. There was a heavy military presence, more than I encountered on my previous trip, two years before. Groups of soldiers every fifty metres, with their AK-47’s slung to the hip, eyes watchful, scanned the passengers in search of something unusual.

The Fundamentalists had killed two Austrian tourists two weeks before and had threatened to kill more, warning tourists to leave the country or face the consequences. Their plan was to ruin the tourist trade, the major source of revenue for the Egyptian Government, thereby causing havoc with the economy and hopefully bringing down the incumbent party.The soldiers were the Government response to ensure the safety of travellers, radical but proving effective.

“Passport,” a man at customs control demanded.

I handed it over without a word, along with my immigration card.

“Purpose of your visit?”

“Holiday,” I replied honestly.

He glanced at the photo and then at me, as if he was deciding whether or not I warranted further investigation. My hair had grown longer and I hadn’t shaved for four days, but, hell, it was still me.

“OK," and he slapped my passport into my hand.

After waiting half an hour to collect my baggage from the carousel and refusing all offers of assistance from the local porters, I made my way to the taxi stand.

“Taxi sir, good price, good price,” the small Egyptian man said, wearing what appeared to be an English felt cap.

“How much to Tahir Square?”

“Thirty pounds sir,” he answered quickly.

“I’ll give you twenty."

“No, no, sir; thirty pounds is cheap, very reasonable."

I turned my back as if to walk away and look for another taxi.

“Oh sir, that is an insult, it would not cover the fuel, twenty-five pounds, twenty-five pounds.”

I turned; maybe the costs had gone up in two years. Bugger it, I was too tired to haggle any further.

“OK, OK, twenty-five it is.”

I slumped into the rear seat and closed my eyes. It was at least half an hour to Tahir Square in the centre of Cairo. I reflected back to what had brought me here.


 

 

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