Barbara’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars
Series: Lady Emily #14
Publication Date: 1/7/2020
Number of Pages: 304
*** 3.5 Stars Rounded up to 4 ***
As with many of the stories in this long-running series, you get two stories for the price of one. The main story takes place in 1902 Pompei at an archaeological dig and the accompanying story revolves around a newly freed slave girl in AD 79 Pompei. For my part, I sort of liked the accompanying story better than the main story – mostly because you knew, as you read, what was going to happen to the characters. You wanted them to escape, but really knew they wouldn’t, so it was bittersweet.
Lady Emily and her best friend, Ivy, hadn’t been able to spend much time together because – well – life got in the way. Ivy has six children who keep her busy and Lady Emily and her husband, Colin, have children and travel a good deal – mostly because of Colin’s work for the crown. Ivy, Emily, and Colin have decided to make a trek to the digs at Pompei. Colin didn’t want to go, but Ivy’s husband persuaded him to accompany the ladies.
Almost upon arrival, they discovered a dead body – encased in plaster in order to look like the other victims of Vesuvius. Colin and Lady Emily immediately take on the investigation to solve the murder because the local authorities would just let it go. They have lots of suspects with all of the archaeologists on the dig – many of whom are hiding secrets. Almost as soon as the investigation begins, the warnings start. The warnings are obscure and something that Lady Emily would recognize, but most others wouldn’t. Those warnings were meant to put them off the investigation but only made Lady Emily and crew more determined to find the killer. Tensions only increase when a second death occurs. Was it a murder or an accident? The investigation continues and many secrets are revealed, many suspects investigated and finally, the killer revealed in a most dramatic way.
Also, right at the beginning, we get a new and previously unknown addition to the Hargreaves family. Colin’s method of dealing with this new addition caused me to lose respect for him. There was no excuse for his allowing this new addition to treat Lady Emily as she did.
I have never had a great liking for Lady Emily – I’ve tried and just can’t get there. In my opinion, Lady Ivy would have made a much better heroine. Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, is also seeming a little caricaturish to me. It seems to me it is time he begins to grow up. One thing that sort of bothered me was that there was absolutely no mention of Lady Emily’s and Colin’s children – given the circumstances, you’d think they’d be discussed at some point.
The descriptions of the places and people in both stories made you feel as if you were right there in the scene. The mystery was a good one and the accompanying story was a lovely, but sad, tale.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.