ARACI QUINTANILHA is the owner of the traditional Casa Quintanilha de Leilões (Quintanilha Auction House), in Rio de Janeiro, which is humming with excitement about the upcoming auction where a mysterious oil painting, known as ‘O Véu’ (‘The Veil’), will be offered to the bidders. The painting, which had been condemned by various Muslim leaders from all four corners of the globe because it showed a scantly-clad woman wearing an Islamic veil, had a history that was marked by success, controversy, intrigue and tragedy. A number of people linked to the painting had died, including the painter himself, Lourenço Monte Mor, the victim of a mysterious and never-explained fire at his home.
Dark secrets from the past would seem to link the painting to the assassination, in Saudi Arabia in 2005, of Abu al-Horiah, the leader of Azadi, an Iranian extremist organization responsible for innumerable terrorist attacks in the 1980s and 90s. While it was generally felt that the death of Abu al-Horiah and his son Arsalan, who had been carefully groomed as his successor, had put an end to Azadi, a couple of years after the assassination, rumors began to circulate hinting that the organization might be awaking from hibernation, under the command of a new leader, a woman known as Umm al-Hakika.. And these rumors about the resurrection of Azadi coincide with the arrival in Brazil of Mohsen Khajepour, a respected Iranian intellectual living in Switzerland, and who is killed under mysterious circumstances.