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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.
For a number of years, while everyone believed that O VÉU/THE VEIL had been destroyed in the fire that had taken Lourenço Monte Mor’s life, the painting had, in fact, been hidden in Araci Quintanilha’s apartment. When the auction is announced and the general public becomes aware that the controversial work of art actually survived the fire, Araci is suddenly caught up in staggering whirlwind of disturbing events when her very safety is placed at risk. Threatened by terrorists, she is forced to go into hiding, without even noting that a gigantic conspiracy is under way. She is unaware that the mysterious painting, which she had held in safekeeping for years, hides a terrible and fantastic secret that could have a tragic impact on world geopolitics. In this electrifying and involving plot, where the behind-the-scenes of the rich world of art interacts with the sordid underbelly of the turbulent political scene in Iran, the fates of three women are intertwined in a quest for truth and liberty.
Primavera Editorial, 2009
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