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    The Cross Maker
    Jack Taylor
    First Century Palestine is a hotbed of political, cultural and religious intrigue. Nazareth carpenter, Caleb ben Samson, and Roman centurion Sestus Aurelius both want peace. Can this unlikely partnership accomplish what nothing else has done - especially with the rise of a new Messiah. Intense read.

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    book excerpt

    The one man Caleb ben Samson wanted to see on his cross was Barabbas...

    A giant of a Persian with a sun-darkened hide, ankles rattling chains, rounded the corner and stopped nearby. A firm rounded belly hung over his loin cloth. Thick jowls jiggled as he rotated his neck. Piercing dark eyes missed nothing. He carried a crate of bananas on one shoulder and a crate of coconuts on the other. Rivulets of water streamed from his bald head and down his neck.

    Caleb nodded toward the crooked crossbeam. "Why can't they send me an apprentice who cares?"

    "Master, I warned you. Chasin' the devil in this hell is not like catchin' fish. Using yourself as bait is not my kind of game. All that boy cares about is getting his dagger into your neck. And ol' Barabbas is going to get the rest of your family before he's done."

    "Nabonidus, you've served me well, but you talk endlessly like a child. Finish this load and I free you. Now, run to your family. I have work to do." Caleb turned his back on the slave and focused on the misshaped cross. What Nabonidus stated was accurate - no one near him was safe.

    Barabbas was always a shifting shadow, sometimes ahead and sometimes behind. Alexandria had been a time for reflection and refocusing for Caleb. Searching and interviewing. Walking and talking, day after day. It had once been the refuge for Barabbas. Now, the dagger-man had slipped away. The results of Caleb's searching put him on a trail that led to Caesarea and Sepphoris.

    A cold shadow crossed his soul. Barabbas was close; the cross maker felt the bile in the back of his throat. It was Caleb's move.
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