Mcfly Posted on 12:00 am

The History Leading To The Tailor of Riga Isn’t Revealed Until After

The Carpet Salesman of Bagdad is the next book in the sica series by Jonathan Harries. Just last week I posted my review of the first book in the series, The Tailor of Riga. it’s time to move forward or rather back in time

What if my highly dubious story of a two-thousand-year-old family of assassins turned out to be true?

Can you blame a chap for wanting to turn his otherwise humdrum family into a bunch of assassins?

It turns out you can. 

So Here’s How it Went

Shortly after my novel The Tailor of Riga was published in early 2020, I received a number of emails and texts from known and unknown family members around the world. One or two were quite complimentary (well, one to be sure; the other was ambiguous) on the way I’d jazzed up a rather boring family tree by turning our ancestors into a bunch of bloodthirsty assassins. The majority of messages, I’m sad to say, were less so. They included four lawsuits from Australia and Canada, a “beat the crap out of you” threat from someone in California who claimed to be a third cousin once removed (“removed” was underlined in red), and a permanent deletion from an study by a relative in London.

There’s thanks for you, I thought. Add a little oomph to the lives of accountants and shopkeepers, and instead of a kiss on the cheek, you get a poke in the eye—which, incidentally, one elderly clan member threatened to do with a kebab skewer, of all things. Ungrateful bastard.

Then one morning as I scanned my inbox, I saw an email from a woman claiming to be a relative with a name I’d never heard before.

Mozelle Hasson-Herrera lived in Buenos Aires, and though it was clear that English was not her first language, she told me that she’d enjoyed the book immensely. That part of the message—as nice as it was to get a compliment—didn’t interest me quite as much as the last three sentences of her email.

I have for you some papers from my great-great-grandfather, Elias Smulian-Hasson, the one who immigrated to Argentina from Bombay in 1858, that you might find of intrigue. They tell a story that perhaps adds some credence to your own. Please to contact me if you are interested.

Now, while I admit to being naïve, impulsive, and prone to exaggeration though optimistically trusting when it comes to accepting the word of others, I am no fool. I know a scam when I see one. So when someone claiming to be of one’s own flesh and blood sends a note intimating that a story very clearly labelled A family saga of dubious veracity has some credence, then the hackles on the back of one’s neck, as the poets say, bristle like those of a Welsh Terrier encountering a badger. Clearly this Mozelle Hasson-Herrera was after a quick buck.

I was just about to send her an appropriate response when something stayed my finger as it hovered over the return key. What if she was genuine? I decided to check her out with the one person I trust more than anyone when it comes matters of the arbor familiae: My mother’s first cousin, Jonathan Smulian—who at age ninety was well and truly settled in Houston having lived or worked in twenty-nine countries during the course of his wonderful life—has an encyclopedic knowledge when it comes to the family. If he hasn’t met them in person, he knows them from correspondence, of which he has drawers full.

“You know,” said Jonathan when I called him, “there was a rumor about a branch of the Smulians in Baghdad. I heard it…must have been fifty-odd years ago… from a cousin—a distant one at that—who lived in Colombia when I worked there. I do know that a lot of Jews left Baghdad in the latter half of the nineteenth century for India. So I imagine it’s entirely possible that one branch may have moved to Bombay and from there to Argentina. I don’t have any records of an Elias Smulian-Hasson or Hasson-Herrera, but ‘Hasson’ sounds like a Mizrahi name. Which means there’s a degree of credibility to her message. Why don’t you reply and ask her to explain further? You have nothing to lose. Who knows, you may get something good out of it.”

Well, I certainly got something out of it.

Though whether it was good, you the reader will have to decide.

All I can tell you is that what Mozelle Hasson-Herrera sent me in a carefully wrapped shoebox left a distinct chill in my bones and played merry hell with my guts. The more I read, the more I felt as if I were descending into madness, for it seemed that some of what I’d labelled “questionable” in The Tailor of Riga could well have been true.

What follows is the story based on the diary entries—what Mozelle Hasson-Herrera referred to as “notes”. They were translated for what I considered an oddly reasonable sum from both Arabic and Hebrew by a very enthusiastic Dr. David Musilan of the University of Montreal. Well, that’s what he claimed when he answered my enquiry on an academic language-translation website. I only discovered what a perfidious bastard he was when I needed a receipt for my tax records. Somehow, he’d mysteriously vanished. His emails came back as “not a working address,” and the phone number he’d given me when we met for coffee at the Starbucks on Greenwich Avenue just rang and rang. Eventually I called the human resources department at the University of Montreal. A very pleasant woman told me that there was no Dr. Musilan currently in any department, and there never had been. The closest they had was a Professor Mullen who taught physics, but he was eighty years old. A far cry from the thirty-five-year-old man I’d had coffee with and who seemed as keen as mustard to start the translation.

I mention this only because if you come across any errors, historical or otherwise, blame Musilan.

That is, if you can find him.

Jonathan Harries

The Carpet Salesman of Baghdad is being released July 27, 2021

The Carpet Salesman from Baghdad is a prequel to the first book in the series, The Tailor of Riga. The Tailor of Riga will be available for free on Kindle from 7/23-7/27. Offering a great opportunity to get started on the series! Unsure, watch the trailer here:

“I like to think they’re light-hearted and entertaining, and I hope, should I be lucky enough for you to buy them, you will too.”

Jonathan Harries, author

You can find The Carpet Salesman of Bagdad at:

Authors Info

  • Website:
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  • Twitter: @harriesjonathan
  • Instagram: @jonathanharriesink
  • ***You may wish to know that by opting in on the authors website, subscribers are given access to a free short story that is only available there, along with a full-length novel that used to be for sale on Amazon but is now perma-free.

****Everything Jonathan makes from the books goes to organizations devoted to saving animals and wildlife around the world.****

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