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.It was clearly bulletproof, and not the standard blue kind, either, but white glass—he guessed a P6B standard—which rendered it not only bulletproof but blast-proof, hammer-proof, and ax-proof as well.He stared intently into the case, ignoring the fabulous and irreplaceable treasure it contained, his eyes instead picking out and categorizing the many layers of security within—motion sensors, atmospheric pressure sensors, infrared heat detectors, and even what looked like an atmospheric composition sensor.Clearly any disturbance would trigger the instant shutting of that steel door—sealing the room and trapping the thief inside.And that was just the security he could see.“Breathtaking, isn’t it?” murmured Glinn.“It’s scaring the shit out of me.”“What?” Glinn looked startled.“Excuse me.You mean the book…” He looked at it for the first time.“Interesting.”“That’s one way of putting it.Its origins are shrouded in mystery.Some say it was created by Saint Columba himself around AD 590.Others believe it was created by unknown monks two hundred years later, to celebrate Columba’s bicentennial.It was begun at Iona and then carried to the Abbey of Kells, where the illumination was added.And there it was kept, deeply hidden, as the abbey was raided and looted again and again by pagan Viking marauders.But they never found that book.”Gideon looked at the manuscript more closely.Despite himself, he was drawn in, enthralled by the fantastically complex abstract designs on the page, almost fractal in their depth.“The page on display today is folio 34r,” Glinn told him.“The famous Chi Rho monogram.”“Chi Rho? What’s that?”“Chi and Rho are the first two letters of the word Christ in Greek.The actual narrative of Jesus’s life starts at Matthew 1:18, and that page was often decorated in early illuminated gospels.The first word of the narrative is Christ.In the Book of Kells, those first two letters, Chi Rho, consume the entire page.”The crowds began to back up behind them, and Gideon felt someone’s elbow giving him a faint nudge.Glinn’s whispery voice continued.“Look at the labyrinth of knotted decoration! You can see all kinds of strange things hidden in there—animals, insects, birds, angels, tiny heads, crosses, flowers.Not to mention Celtic knots of stupendous complexity, a mathematician’s dream…And then the colors! The golds and greens and yellows and purples! This is the greatest page from the greatest illuminated manuscript in existence.No wonder the book is considered Ireland’s greatest national treasure.Just look at it.”This was the first time Gideon could remember hearing anything approaching enthusiasm in Glinn’s voice.He leaned closer, so close his breath fogged the glass.“Excuse me, but there are people waiting,” came an impatient voice from behind him.As a little test, Gideon reached out and put his hand on the glass.Instantly a low beeping sounded and a guard called out: “Hands off the glass, please! You, sir—hands off!”This stimulated the impatient crowd.“Come on, friend, give someone else a chance!” came another voice.Others murmured their agreement.With a long sigh of regret, Glinn touched his withered finger to the joystick and the wheelchair moved aside with a hum, Gideon following.A few moments later they were back out on Madison Avenue, the traffic streaming past, cabs blaring.Gideon blinked in the bright light.“Let me get this straight.You want me to steal that book?”He felt Glinn’s hand touch his arm reassuringly.“No, not the entire book.Just that one little folio page we were looking at, number 34r.”“Why?”A silence.“Have you ever known me to answer a question like that?” Glinn asked pleasantly as their limousine came gliding up to take them back to Little West 12th Street.3THREE DAYS LATER, Gideon Crew, fresh from a swim in the rooftop pool of the ultra-hip Gansevoort Hotel, stood stark naked in his suite high above the Meatpacking District of New York, staring down at a king-size bed overspread with diagrams and schematics—which mapped out, in minute detail, the security system of the East Room of the Morgan Library.The loan of the Book of Kells by the Irish government to the Morgan Library had taken eight years to arrange.It had been fraught with difficulty.The main reason was that in the year 2000, one of the book’s folios had been sent to Canberra, Australia, for exhibition.Several pages were damaged by rubbing and a loss of pigment—the vibration of the plane’s engines was blamed—and the Irish government was now loath to risk another loan.James Watermain, the billionaire Irish American founder of the Watermain Group, had made it a personal mission to bring the book to the United States.A man known for his charisma and charm, he managed to persuade the Irish prime minister, and finally the government, to release it—under stringent conditions.One of those conditions was a total overhaul of the security system of the East Room of the Morgan Library, which Watermain paid for himself.Watermain had initially tried to put the manuscript on display at the Smithsonian.Museum security, however, had proven unwilling to provide the necessary high-tech face-lift, and the effort had fallen through.Secretly, Gideon was pleased to hear this [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]