‘The Virgin of the Wind Rose’ by Glen Craney

The Virgin of the Wind Rose

While probing the murder of her missionary boyfriend in Ethiopia, rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane discovers a strange word square in an underground church. Teaming up with the elusive Elymas she follows the ancient clues to Rome, Nova Scotia and Sumatra. Running alongside the main story is a much older one – in 1452, a group of young men (including Christopher Columbus) set out on a mission to protect ancient secrets but soon find themselves facing a conspiracy that aims to rid the world of Jews, heretics and non-believers.

The novel reminded me a lot of Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and there were similarities in the way the would-be code-breakers tracked the clues. The plot was clever and well constructed, and occasionally hard to follow, though the switching between the two stories worked well. I was initially drawn to the two main characters, particularly the wonderfully mysterious Elymas, but after a while, I did find Jaq Quartermane a little irritating. In the author’s favour, the depth of research gives the historical aspects a healthy spoonful of kudos and the attention to detail is commendable. But while I have to admire the storytelling, as in Mr Brown’s case, it all felt just a tad far-fetched.

A clever, complicated and thought-provoking novel – if you like conspiracy theories and Indiana Jones-type adventures, this’ll go down a treat.

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