The Reading Guru is hosting an excerpt from “The Granite Key” today, an archaeological thriller.
At about three o’clock in the morning far outside the city, four people were staring bleakly at one other around a kitchen table. It was an old style oak table in an old style country kitchen. The kind with tin ceiling tiles and tall glass cupboards above the sink. A single yellow nightlight glowed from the wall.
At one end of the table sat an elderly woman in a terrycloth robe and slippers. Despite the late hour, she had managed to roll her white hair into a neat little bun at the nape of her neck. She sighed heavily. “I can’t believe this.”
“Believe it. Sybil’s dead.” The abrupt comment came from a blond man in his mid-twenties at the opposite end of the table. He sat slouched despondently in his chair, arms crossed, his legs sprawled out in front of him. “She called me and she sounded scared. She thought somebody was trying to break into the shop. Then the line went dead. I got there as fast as I could but the cops beat me to it.” He exhaled tiredly. “It’s my fault.”
“How do you figure?” The question came from a middle-aged woman with bushy red hair sitting to his left. There were distinct frown lines around her mouth. She took a long drag on an unfiltered cigarette.
The blond man glanced up. “If I’d just gotten there five minutes sooner maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Maybe she’d still be alive.”
“Did she give you a physical description of her attacker?” The question came from a young man in his early-twenties seated to the right. He spoke with a British accent.
“Nope,” said the blond man succinctly. “For the past week or so she told me she had the feeling somebody was following her but she never knew who it was.”
“I think we all know who was responsible.” The elderly woman rose stiffly out of her chair. She walked over to sink, filled a kettle and put it on the stove to boil.
The other three stared at one another in shock. Anger flashed in the middle-aged woman’s eyes. “Those bastards! What do they want from us now?”
The Granite Key
Author: Nancy Wikarski
Genre: Archaeological Thriller
THE ARKANA SERIES: Archaeological Thrillers That Defy History
Volume One – The Granite Key
“Think ‘MEDIUM meets THE LOST SYMBOL’ and it only begins to describe the pleasures of THE GRANITE KEY – 5 Stars.” (Kindle Nation)
A Wake-Up Call
In a nightmare, nineteen year old Cassie Forsythe sees her sister attacked by a man in a cowboy hat who demands something called “the key.” Her nightmare mutates into reality before the night is over. Cassie is called to identify her sister’s body–murdered exactly as her dream foretold. Cassie dismisses her vision as a fluke and fights to get on with her life. Disconnected and aimless now that her only family is gone, she drifts until the evening when she catches the man in the cowboy hat ransacking her sister’s apartment. He bolts with an odd-looking stone cylinder–the granite key. From that moment, Cassie’s normal world evaporates.
A Secret Society
She learns that her sister led a double life–retrieving artifacts for a secret organization called the Arkana. The Arkana’s leader, an elder named Faye, explains that her group performs a controversial kind of archaeology. They scour the globe for evidence of ancient pre-patriarchal civilizations in hopes of salvaging the lost history of the world. Their network of troves safeguards artifacts from highly sophisticated goddess-worshipping cultures on every continent. Cassie’s sister had the psychic ability to touch an artifact and relive its past. Cassie has now inherited this gift. Faye wants the girl to take over her sister’s role in the organization. Cassie doubts her powers but agrees. Now an insider, she is transported to the Arkana’s mysterious underground vault in the countryside outside Chicago where the group tackles the mystery of her sister’s murder.
A Dangerous Cult
The Arkana learns that the man in the cowboy hat is a hired mercenary named Leroy Hunt and that he is working for a fundamentalist religious cult known as the Blessed Nephilim. He takes his orders directly from the cult’s domineering prophet–Abraham Metcalf. The granite key which Leroy stole is inscribed with hieroglyphics revealing the location of a mythological artifact reputed to have mystical powers–the Sage Stone. Although skeptical of its legendary capabilities, the Arkana is still afraid to allow the relic to fall into the cult’s hands. Abraham’s fanatical belief in the power of the Sage Stone could be the catalyst to start a war of religious genocide.
Unlocking The Key
Before she died, Cassie’s sister took photos of the strange markings on the granite key. The Arkana decodes the hieroglyphics which point to the ancient ruins of Minoan Crete as the hiding place of the Sage Stone. Faye hastily assembles a retrieval team including Cassie, her newly-appointed bodyguard Erik, and a British researcher named Griffin. The band of treasure hunters is mismatched and wildly dysfunctional from the start. Griffin has never gone on a field mission, Erik treats his inexperienced colleagues with contempt, and Cassie second-guesses her psychic hunches. She battles to prove herself to Erik at every turn. Their internal clashes rival the bigger crisis of what to do when they come face to face with their enemies.
A Matter Of Life Or Death
Even as they rake through megalithic tombs and Minoan palaces for clues, Abraham dispatches his son Daniel and hired gun Leroy Hunt to recover the Sage Stone. The Nephilim operatives won’t hesitate to kill anyone standing in their way. Will Cassie and her teammates avert global disaster or find themselves casualties of Abraham’s mania to exterminate the world of unbelievers? The Granite Key holds the answer.
Nancy Wikarski is a fugitive from academia. After earning her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, she became a computer consultant and then turned to mystery and historical fiction writing. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Society Of Midland Authors, and has served as vice president of Sisters In Crime – Twin Cities and on the programming board of the Chicago chapter. Her short stories have appeared in Futures Magazine and DIME Anthology, while her book reviews have been featured in Murder: Past Tense and Deadly Pleasures.
She has written the Gilded Age Chicago History Mysteries series set in 1890s Chicago. Titles include The Fall Of White City (2002) and Shrouded In Thought (2005). The series has received People’s Choice Award nominations for Best First Novel and Best Historical as well as a Lovey Award for Best Traditional Amateur Sleuth.
She is currently writing the seven book Arkana Archaeology Thriller Mystery series. Titles include The Granite Key (2011), The Mountain Mother Cipher (2011), and The Dragon’s Wing Enigma (2012). The fourth volume in the series, The Riddle Of The Diamond Dove, is scheduled for publication in December of 2013. Ms. Wikarski’s work on the Arkana books has prompted Kindle Nation to call her one of its favorite authors.
Purchase Link – Amazon (for US store) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004NIFTI8
Facebook public page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/N-S-Wikarski/111546722263900