The Deadliest Fever

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A Miriam Bat Isaac Mystery in
Ancient Alexandria
Historical
Mystery

Date Published: April
2018

Publisher: Black
Opal Books
 
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Miriam bat Isaac, a
budding alchemist and amateur sleuth in first-century CE Alexandria, is concerned when she
learns that the threads of gold in the Great Synagogue’s Torah mantle have been damaged. She
takes the mantle to Judah, a renowned jeweler and the unrequited love of her life. He repairs the
threads and assures her that the stones in the mantle are still genuine. Like Miriam, he is
astonished that someone would damage the threads but leave the gems behind.
Shortly before, the
Jewish community of Alexandria welcomed their visiting sage and his family, who had just
arrived from Ephesus on the Thalia. Also on the ship were the perpetrators of an audacious
jewelry heist. And shortly after, the captain of the Thalia is found dead in a sleazy waterfront
inn.

Can Miriam discover
the connections among the jewel heist, the death of the sea captain, and the desecration of the
Torah mantle before the deadliest fever claims its victim? Not without help from the bite of a
rabid bat.
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Other Books
in the Miriam bat Isaac Mysteries in Ancient Alexandria Mystery Series:
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The Deadliest
Lie
A Miriam bat Isaac
Mysteries in Ancient Alexandria, Book One
Publisher: Bell
Bridge Books
Published: October
2013
She’s a brilliant
alchemist-with a talent for solving mysteries.
Miriam bat Isaac is a
budding scholar in first-century CE Alexandria, though her dreams seem doomed. Who in her
household or among her father
’s Shabbat guests stole the scrolls containing the Alchemical League’s valuable formulas?
Perhaps the thief was even her frantic father, on the cusp of financial ruin, eager for Miriam to
end her dalliance with a handsome jeweler and marry into an honorable and wealthy family. Or
her rebellious brother, intent on raising money to travel to Capua so he can enroll in the Roman
Empire
’s
most renowned gladiator school. Or her faint-hearted fianc
é, who begrudges her preoccupation with
alchemy and yearns for their forthcoming marriage?
And how did the
thief manage to steal them? Miriam is not only faced with a baffling puzzle, but, to recover the
scrolls, she must stalk the culprit through the sinister alleys of Alexandria
’s claustrophobic underbelly. The
Romans who keep a harsh watch over her Jewish community are trouble enough.
Miriam is based on
the true personage of Maria Hebrea, the legendary founder of Western alchemy, who developed
the concepts and apparatus alchemists and chemists would use for 1500 years.
June Trop
(Zuckerman) has had over forty years of experience as an award-winning teacher and educator.
Now associate professor emerita at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she spends
her time breathlessly following her intrepid protagonist, Miriam bat Isaac, who is back in the
underbelly of Alexandria, once again searching for a murderer in The Deadliest Sport while
worrying about her brother.

 

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The Deadliest
Hate
A Miriam bat Isaac
Mysteries in Ancient Alexandria, Book Two
Publisher: Bell
Bridge Books
Published: October
2015
The Roman Empire
may be the least of her enemies.
A secret alchemical
recipe to transmute copper into gold surfaces in first-century CE Caesarea. As soon as Miriam
sets out to trace the leak, Judean terrorists target her for assassination. Eluding the assassins
while protecting a secret of her own, she discovers that she, herself, is responsible for the leak.
Moreover she is powerless to stop its spread throughout the Empire and beyond.
But who is really
trying to kill Miriam? Is it a case of mistaken identity, or is her late-fiancé’s ex-scribe, now an
assistant to the Procurator of Judea, seeking to avenge an old grudge? Or is her heartthrob’s half-
brother, a Judean patriot who inherited his mother’s mania, afraid Miriam knows too
much?
And how did the
recipe find its way from Alexandria to Caesarea anyway?
June Trop
(Zuckerman) has had over forty years of experience as an award-winning teacher and educator.
Now associate professor emerita at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she spends
her time breathlessly following her intrepid protagonist, Miriam bat Isaac, who is back in the
underbelly of Alexandria, once again searching for a murderer in The Deadliest Sport while
worrying about her brother.

Amazon</div >
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The Deadliest
Sport

A Miriam bat Isaac
Mysteries in Ancient Alexandria, Book Three
Publisher: Black
Opal Books
Published: October
2017
Miriam bat Isaac, a
budding alchemist in first-century CE Alexandria, welcomes her twin brother Binyamin home to
fight his last gladiatorial bout in Alexandria. But when he demands his share of the family
money so he can build a school for gladiators in Alexandria, Miriam explains that he forsook his
share when he took the gladiatorial oath. When she refuses to loan him the money for what she
feels is a shady, and dangerous, enterprise, Binyamin becomes furious. Soon after, the will of
Amram, Miriam’s elderly charge, turns up missing, Amram becomes seriously ill, and the clerk
of the public records house is murdered. Could Binyamin really be behind this monstrous
scheme? If not he, who could be responsible? And is Miriam slated to be the next
victim?
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 Excerpt

May 1, Thursday,
Almost Midnight:

He waited, listening
to the darkness flow into the sanctuary. With the thick drapes blocking the flare of torches lining
the Canopic Way, the only light scratching the air was the meager glow of the eternal flame, the
ner tamid of Alexandria’s Great Synagogue.
The coolness of the
night had already begun to assert itself. Just a little longer, he told himself as his fist closed
around the open edges of his long black robe. A few minutes later, as his other hand pulled back
the hood over his head, he emerged from his hiding place, his body taut, his legs tingling from
having stood in place for so long.
Stretching his
cramped muscles, he approached the front of the Torah Ark. His fingers trembled with
excitement, his eyes shining with greed as he drew open the parokhet, the curtain that screened
the Ark.
“Like a bride’s veil,”
he said to himself, amused by the analogy.
With a self-
congratulatory nod and a tight satisfied smile, he pulled open the ornate bronze doors and carried
the Torah to the Reader’s Table. For a few moments, he gazed at the coveted prize adorning the
Torah mantle, three peerless jewels, each set into the bowl of one of the three vessels
embroidered in gold on the mantle.
He didn’t need much
light. His eyes were already accustomed to the darkness, and his hands had performed this
procedure many times before. Taking a few deep breaths to calm the twitch at the corner of his
mouth, he removed a slim wooden box from the goatskin pouch attached to his belt, took out his
tools, and lined them up on the table: his silver pick, plyers, tweezers, snips, and a double-
handled vial of olive oil. Then he undressed the Torah and positioned the mantle so the jewels
caught the narrow strip of light from the ner tamid.

Oh, Lord! Even in
the thinnest light, they spew out their fire!
Half-frightened,
worried that he’d uttered the words aloud, he released only a feather of breath.
But hearing no echo,
his jaw softened.
He was
safe.
Then, hunching over
the table, balancing his forearms against the edge, he took hold of the pick and laid his hands on
the mantle.
He tried to loosen the
center stone, the emerald. The setting was tight. Very tight. He tried again, this time after placing
a droplet of oil on each prong.
This is going to take
a while.
He shifted his weight
and continued.
The silence was
absolute save for the occasional sputter of the ner tamid and the distant rumble of hooves on the
Canopic Way’s granite pavement.
Until he heard
loudening footfalls ringing out against the tessellated floor, waking the echoes in the corridor’s
coffered ceiling.
A crease of light
swept under the sanctuary’s ceiling-high, bejeweled double doors.
He froze and held his
breath, as fear prickled down his spine, until the clicking heels receded into the silence. He
blinked slowly and released an unbidden sigh. Just the watchman on his rounds. He won’t come
in here. He locked the doors to the sanctuary and all the outside doors to the Synagogue hours
ago and won’t open them again until dawn.
His fingers worked
through the night. Despite the chill, rivulets of sweat trickled down his back and collected under
his belt. He straightened up now and then, rolled his shoulders back, and cocked his head as he
admired his work.
His mouth curved
into a triumphant smile.
Beads of saliva clung
to his lips.
By now a pearly
grayness was seeping under the doors. He could see the darkness dissolving. Objects in the
sanctuary were reclaiming their color and shape.
He mentally ticked
off the remaining tasks: Dress the Torah. Put it back in the Ark. Tuck my prize and the tools into
the box. Slide it back into my pouch. Slip out as soon as the watchman unlocks the doors but
before what’s-his-name…Gershon, that’s it, Gershon ben Israel…comes in to check the
sacred—
Oh, Lord, what on
Earth is that squeaking sound? Surely not a bird.
A sharp-toothed,
leathery-winged bat shot out of nowhere, swooped across the sanctuary, and, wheeling around
the bemah, took a dive, and nipped the crown of the man’s head before disappearing with a shrill
screech behind the Ark.
His thin howl—part
gasp, scream, and strangled sob—tore through the sanctuary.
Then he heard a pair
of boots smacking the tiles.
I gotta get out of
here! Where’s the—
Dressing it quickly,
he shoved the Torah into the Ark, throwing everything else into his pouch.
Except the
vial.
The vial.
Oops!
Oil
everywhere.
Oh, Lord! Not
now.
A hasty wipe with
the sleeve of his robe.
The rising volume of
hammering footsteps.
Now two sets—one
close, the other farther away but catching up. Their volume swelled as they turned a
corner.
Must be Gershon
trailing the watchman.
The jangle of keys.
The ping of the latch as the watchman unlocked the doors.
No place to hide.
And, Lord, all this blood gushing from my head.
“No, Daniel, no!”
Gershon shouted. “The other way. Hurry! The scream came from the library.”
About the
Author

 photo The Deadliest Fever Author June Trop_zpsmqjpwzad.jpg

June Trop and her
twin sister Gail wrote their first story, “The Steam Shavel [sic],” when they were six years old
growing up in rural New Jersey. They sold it to their brother Everett for two cents.

“I don’t remember
how I spent my share,” June says. “You could buy a fistful of candy for a penny in those days,
but ever since then, I wanted to be a writer.”

As an award-winning
middle school science teacher, June used storytelling to capture her students’ imagination and
interest in scientific concepts. Years later as a professor of teacher education, she focused her
research on the practical knowledge teachers construct and communicate through storytelling.
Her first book, From Lesson Plans to Power Struggles (Corwin Press, 2009), is based on the
stories new teachers told about their first classroom experiences.
Now associate
professor emerita at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she devotes her time to
writing The Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series. Her heroine is based on the personage of Maria
Hebrea, the legendary founder of Western alchemy, who developed the concepts and apparatus
alchemists and chemists would use for 1500 years.
Contact
Links
Purchase
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