F. Paul Wilson has had a long and distinguished career writing fiction that refuses to be pigeonholed into one neat generic lump. He has written thrillers, horror, SF and even a New Age-type adventure. One never knows what a new Wilson novel will bring, but there is a common chord running through every piece of fiction he has ever published: Excellence.

In the 90's F. Paul Wilson wrote a beautiful novel called Virgin. But at the time he was enjoying success with a series of medical thrillers and he (or maybe his publisher) didn't want a religious novel to throw his readers off. Not one to let a solid novel languish, he published Virgin as a paperback original under his wife's name. Now Virgin is available under its true author's name, thanks to the great people at Borderlands Press.

I said that Virgin is a solid novel, but it's really more than that. I look at the novels that Paul has given us and favorites include The Keep, The Tomb, Black Wind, Sibs, Legacies, Sims and Midnight Mass. Surely Virgin belongs on the same list of the best that this prolific writer has written.

Virgin is a religious-themed thriller. It's an espionage novel and a work with a powerful message. The dust jacket compares it to the film, The Next Voice You Hear, but it also reminds of a Philip Wylie novel called The Answer. In each the world is contacted by an irrefutable divine source with a sobering cautionary message.

The novel opens with a pair of poor brothers in Israel who investigate an errant Scud missile's landing. Hoping to find some metal that they can sell, the two instead make a discovery that instigates an International furor and changes the world as everyone knows it.

As always in F. Paul Wilson's fiction, the reader is acquainted with characters that resonate with credibility. Each have their own goals in the drama that ensues from the finding of a preserved corpse that is believed to be the remains of The Virgin Mary. Tensions escalate as various factions grapple to use the relic for their own means.

Virgin is more than just a good read. It is a story of great spiritual power and a sad reminder of the fallibility and weakness of the human condition. But it also celebrates the essential decency that I believe exists in the majority of our flawed species.

As of this writing, there are still some copies of the limited edition of 350 copies that were published. A trade paperback is forthcoming and I urge every reader to buy one or the other. I recommend it to the faithful as well as those that choose not to believe in God. For the truths in Virgin's pages are just as meaningful to us all, regardless of our faith.

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