The Virgin of the Wind Rose: A Christopher Columbus Mystery-Thriller by Glen Craney is his latest historical mystery-thriller and a Scéal Mystery-Thriller Book Award Finalist.
The author offered me an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
A well-researched historical novel, we see The Virgin of the Wind Rose through the eyes of two people from two different eras. Jaq, a modern day American woman and staunch theist (Christian), who works for the US state department, travels to Ethiopia to investigate her fiance’s unexpected and mysterious death. Pero, a Portuguese boy, becomes an unintentional participant in a historical event.
The book cover is attractive.
The Virgin of the Wind Rose is a compelling and well-constructed mystery. The suspense, helplessness of the POV characters in hands of larger powers who abuse their positions, the blurring line between religious myths and factual basis, all these elements contribute to the gripping plot.
The initial build up is tight, and the book has a few breath-stopping sequences, but the thrill factor isn’t uniform. Some chapters, mostly the ones with Jaq, lost me. I believe it’s Jaq’s characterization that failed to impress me. Her POV often makes me want to move on to Pero’s section or pray Boz makes an appearance. That man is surely as entertaining as the mystery clues the author has created for us.
The dialogues weren’t as memorable as the information provided through narrative. The repetitive ‘God and God’s work’ theory of Jaq was a bit too much for me. It’s relevant to the plot (the last part of the book, no spoilers) but an overdose alright. Nonetheless, the book can boast of an intriguing and vastly complex plot with terrorist conspiracy, the ancient mystery religion of Mithras, a close spotlight on Isabella of Castille and Cristobal Colon aka Christopher Columbus.
Speaking of God, the author has depicted the religious power abuse and related politics superbly.
I wasn’t that impressed with any of the characters, even Boz, who is a mixture of Thomas Crown+Indiana Jones+cocky historical romance heroes (aptly referred by Jaq as a rake). Pero did manage to gain some sympathy from me, but the alternate chapters of different timeline and story diluted my feelings. The plot is the king here, not the players.
The author describes the caves, the ancient buildings, and such other dig sites with great details. The explanation of historical events and pagan religions are good enough to take notes. That’s my favorite feature of the book.
I liked the conclusion, it felt justified and not what I had expected initially. The Virgin of the Wind Rose ends on a partially inconclusive note, hinting at a sequel. I would love one because I am curious enough to wait.
The comparison of the book to Dan Brown’s work is justifiable as this book also entertains readers with religious and historical puzzle solving moments, interesting locations, continued suspense, and somewhat unexpected conclusions.
However, I must admit that I couldn’t love The Virgin of the Wind Rose as much as I did Angels and Demons or Da Vinci Code. The thrill factor which is an integral part of Brown’s work was often missing here. The characters didn’t enchant me either. Hence the four bohostars.
That’s, of course, my opinion and shouldn’t stop you from reading the book.
You should read this book if you are a history lover and enjoy mysteries based on religion, relics, and puzzles. The plot and excellent background research should be enough to entice you to Mr. Craney’s work.
The author had lured me into this world of history and myth by using one name, Christopher Columbus. I heartily thank him for the opportunity to read and review this book.
About the author
Glen Craney holds graduate degrees from Indiana University School of Law and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He practiced trial law before joining the Washington, D.C. press corps to cover national politics and the Iran-contra trial for Congressional Quarterly magazine. The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded him the Nicholl Fellowship prize for best new screenwriting, and he is a three-time finalist for Foreword Reviews Book-of-the-Year Award. His debut historical novel, The Fire and the Light, was honored as Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards. His books 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.
AMPAS Nicholl Fellowship Winner
indieBRAG Medallion Honoree
Chaucer Award Double Finalist
Nautilus Silver Award Winner
IPPY Silver Award Winner
NIEA Award Winner for Best New Fiction
Eric Hoffer Finalist/Honorable Mention Winner
Three-time Foreword Reviews Book-of-the-Year Finalist
Da Vinci Eye Award Finalist
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