JERUSALEM POKER (1978) - Book 2 of the Jerusalem Quartet

American Hard Cover Edition
Holt Rinehart & Winston 1978
On the last day of December 1921, three men sat down to a game of poker in the back room of an antiquities shop in Jerusalem:

* Cairo Martyr an enigmatic black giant from Africa who controlled the supply of aphrodisiac mummy dust in the Middle East. a blue-eyed Moslem and former slave determined to revenge the injustices done to his people.

* O'Sullivan Beare a disillusioned and wily Irish patriot who was making a fortune in the Holy Land from the sale of spurious Christian artifacts that were undeniably phallic in shape.

* Munk Szondi dedicated Zionist and once the youngest colonel in the AustroHungarian Imperial Army, a scion of the powerful Budapest Jewish banking House of Szondi, which was run by a matriarchal directorate known as The Sarahs.

The Great Jerusalem Poker Game, as it came to be called, continued for twelve years - the stakes nothing less than the control of Jerusalem itself. Thousands of gamblers from around the world lost fortunes trying to win the Holy City, but in the end there were only three men at the table, the same three who had been there in the beginning.

The lives of these three gamblers become entwined with an English lord who wrote a thirty-three volume study of Levantine sex in the nineteenth century, a Trappist monk from Albania who forged the world's oldest Bible, an idealistic gunrunner named Stern, a revered black archaeologist who built a spacious apartment for himself inside the Great Pyramid, and a tiny Japanese aristocrat, Baron Kikuchi, who converted to Judaism and practiced Zen archery on the slopes of Mt. Sinai.

But before the final round of poker begins, yet another contender for the ultimate hegemony of the eternal city appears: Nubar Wallenstein, heir to the largest oil syndicate in the world and a fanatical alchemist, whose crazed quest for immortality leads him to develop a vast spy network dedicated to destroying the three cosmic cardplayers and taking over Jerusalem.

Where else could such an epic poker game for the secret control of Jerusalem be played but in the antiquities shop belonging to Haj Harun, the three thousand-year-old knight-errant who emerged as the guardian of the Holy City in Edward Whittemore's last novel, Sinai Tapestry.

Read/Download the Jerusalem Poker Prologue here. (It is missing from the Old Earth Books 1st edition, and also from the Open Road Media eBook edition)

"Comedy, horror, wit, tragedy, erudition, and breathtaking imagination…and it is romantic, as great fantasy dressed in truth must always be." Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Whittemore presents himself as one of the last, best arguments against television. He's an author of extraordinary talents, albeit one who eludes comparison with other writers…..The milieu is one which readers of espionage novels may think themselves familiar, and yet it's totally transformed - by the writers wild humour, his mystical bent, and his bicameral perception of history and time….If Whittemore were no more than an "entertainer" his novels would be worth their price. But he does something more difficult than intellectual vaudeville. He assassinates the banal, revealing the authentic current of madness that courses through human affairs, reminding us that the fantastic is ubiquitous, invisible only because we've shut our eyes to it" Harpers

"If the price of whiskey goes up again and the wife leaves me, I'll sit down and reread this book. "
Hugh Murphy, reader, County Donegal

Reviews of Jerusalem Poker:
Introduction to Old Earth Books edition by Lesley Hazleton
Catholicism Beserk in the Holy Land - a review of Jerusalem Poker by Jim Hougan

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©Anne Sydenham 2001-2016