The Virgin of the Wind Rose by Glen Craney

Today I am delighted to bring you an excerpt from Glen Craney’s fast-paced dual-time mystery thriller, The Virgin of the Wind Rose.   

VirginoftheWindRoseAbout the Book

While investigating the murder of an American missionary in Ethiopia, rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane stumbles upon the infamous Templar Word Square, an ancient Latin puzzle that has eluded scholars for centuries. To her horror, she soon discovers the palindrome has been embedded with a cryptographic time bomb. Separated by half a millennium, two global conspiracies dovetail in this historical mystery-thriller to expose the world’s most explosive secret: the real identity and mission of Christopher Columbus.

Excerpt from The Virgin of the Wind Rose

Sopped in sweat, the ten-year-old Ethiopian boy prayed to St. Georgis the Dragonslayer for protection as he wormed his way toward the tomb of the first man on Earth.

The tunnel’s gritty sandstone, stained red from the blood of Satan’s serpents, punished his hands and knees. To preserve the precious air, he slowed his breaths as he crawled. The settling night had cooled the mountain village above him, but here, sixty meters below the surface, the trapped midday heat could roast a chicken. Faint from hunger, he stopped and pulled a crust of bread from his pocket. He chewed the morsel slowly, taking care to muzzle its aroma with his tunic’s sleeve to avoid being swarmed by the bees that hived in the crevices.

His dizziness eased, and he resumed his quest, groping blindly on all fours along the narrowing walls. At last, he came to the Armory of the Shining Ones, the long notch in the floor where the angels had once stored their lances.

Mäqäraräb,” he whispered. Not far now.

He knew every bend and cranny in this secret passage by memory, having accompanied the priests on their daily inspections of the subterranean churches. That was the only godsend from his miserable duties. His father, the High Priest of Lalibela, had marked him at birth for religious service by tattooing a blue cross on his right temple. As a result, he was forbidden to play football or chase tourists for candy, and he would have to slave six more years carrying sandals just to become a deacon. Everyone said he should be grateful for the honor, but he had no desire to waste away his life mumbling incantations. Tomorrow he planned to stow away in the cargo bin of the bus to Addis Ababa, where he would find prosperous construction work and a beautiful girlfriend.

Before leaving home, however, he craved an even more exciting escape, one that promised a glimpse of Paradise. In a few hours, at dawn, his fellow villagers would celebrate Timkat, the holiest of their many religious festivals. The elders of the monastery had retired early to their cloisters to fast and prepare themselves with chants. This night, the tenth of Terr, was the only time of the year that Bet Golgota – the underground church of the Crucifixion – was left unguarded. It would also be his last chance to pierce the veil that shrouded Heaven’s wisdom and delights.

He came hovering over the yawning trench that protected the entrance to the nave, and ran a finger across an inscription on a stone carved in Ge’ez:

The opening verse of Genesis.

He kissed the ground that covered the bones of the biblical Adam. Then, he reached up and inserted the stolen key into the lock just beyond the grave. After several turns of the rusty tumbler, the pitted door squealed open. He slithered inside the trapezoidal cavern. Overhead, lit by ambient moonlight from the fissures in the ceiling, faded frescoes of the martyred saints stared down at him. Turning away from their accusing glares, he climbed to his feet and approached the Selassie Chapel. The sanctuary was so sacred that for ages only the head priest had been allowed to enter it. With a shaking hand, he drew aside a ratty curtain that covered the burial vault of King Lalibela, the monarch who had ruled Ethiopia during the time of the White Knights.

Yes, it was here, in this very vault, where he had spied his father hide the precious Leaves of Eden. How long he had dreamed of the ecstasy now so near his grasp. He heard a whisper of warning from his soul: He who gazes upon the hidden treasures of Lalibela will be struck blind and mute for eternity.

That ancient curse gave him pause, but only for a moment. He wasn’t fooled. The priests spread such tales to scare off grave robbers. He pushed hard against the slab. Finally, after several attempts, the adhesions of centuries gave way. He took a deep breath and reached blindly into the sarcophagus. His palm brushed against the trove.

Egziabhiyär Ymäsgn,” he said softly. May God be praised.

Clutching his discovery to his chest, he shoved the heavy lid back into place with his shoulder and spread dust over it to conceal the–

A bolt of light radiated through the chapel. The foundations shook and buckled the ceiling. He ran through the arches to avoid being buried alive – a second flash blinded him. He covered his face and screamed, “Abba!”

Seconds passed, and he took another shallow breath, then opened his eyes. His mouth gaped in horror – he tried again to call for his father, but this time he couldn’t force a sound past his quivering lips.


Praise for The Virgin of the Wind Rose

Books & Benches Magazine Book-of-the-Year Finalist

“An impeccably researched, high-velocity historical thriller…. If you love Steve Berry, Dan Brown or Umberto Eco, you may have a new author favourite in Glen Craney.” (Bella Wright, Best Thrillers)

“An exciting journey across time, with more twists and turns than a strawberry Twizzler. Craney has produced a page-turning adventure, with crisp, clean and measured prose… The research behind the stories is massive, lending credence to the cast of characters and authenticity to the historic periods. This is a highly recommended historical thriller.” (Quarterdeck Magazine)

“This book is wonderful in that when you are finished you are still asking yourself all kinds of questions. It is a great story and one I enjoyed thoroughly.” (Olivia Morris, Review This!)

“[A]n excellent, interesting, challenging, addictive and very rewarding read. Look – I’m still figuring it out all these days later…Thoroughly enjoyable, thrilling and inspiring.” (Steve Denton, Speesh Reads)

“I stayed up all night to finish this great read and was left wanting more… Many times I will figure stories out early on but this book keeps you guessing. Mr. Craney is a master of holding back and building the suspense. Though this is a fast-paced romp through history and time, you are still holding your breath… I’m hoping for a sequel.” (One Book Shy of a Full Shelf Reviews)

“Grips you in its teeth and whirls you through history… Naturally this novel will be compared to the books of Dan Brown but the quality of writing in The Virgin of the Wind Rose has the edge for me.” (Rosie Amber Reviews)

“Five stars. Move over, Dan Brown, you’ve got competition.” (Sweet Mystery Books)

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GlenCraneyAbout the Author

Glen Craney is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist and lawyer. The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded him the Nicholl Fellowship prize for best new screenwriting. He is also a two-time indieBRAG Medallion Honoree, a Chaucer Award First-Place Winner for Historical Fiction set during the Middle Ages, and has three times been named a Foreword Reviews Book-of-the-Year Award Finalist. His debut novel, The Fire and the Light, was recognized as Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards and as an Honourable Mention winner for Foreword’s BOTYA in historical fiction. His novels have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, to the Scotland of Robert Bruce, to Portugal during the Age of Discovery, to the trenches of France during World War I, and to the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. He lives in southern California.

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