The Tomb of Zeus

The Tomb of Zeus by Barbara Cleverly.  Maybe it was the setting (Crete in 1926) or the prevailing subject matter (archeology) or maybe I’ve been reading so many books in succession that I need to slow down and savor each one, but I found this first mystery featuring Laetitia Talbot to be another disappointing tale.  Soon after Talbot’s arrival in Crete to serve under renowned archaeologist Theodore Russell, Russell’s young, second wife, Phoebe, is discovered hanging from a beam in her bedroom.  Several promising suspects are nearby including the jealous, aging husband, the golden boy stepson, Phoebe’s personal doctor, and more than one Cretan native. 

My biggest problem with the book is succinctly described by the main character herself when she says, “Her death turns all this poking about among the dry bones of the past into an irrelevance, don’t you think?”  I heartily agree, but the author still spent vast sections of the book at the dig site rather than moving the murder plot forward.  This was too bad because the murder plot itself was pretty good with some nice twists to it.  I did very much enjoy the character of Inspector Kosta Mariani and wish that the series would follow his path rather than Talbot’s, especially since it’s his intelligence and dedication to thorough investigation that leads to a solution of the case.

Cleverly wrote some wonderful books in her Joe Sandilands series that were set in India and I highly recommend those, but the last one, Tug of War, based in France and this first entry in the new series are not as entertaining.

I have decided to take a break from mysteries and will attack David Michaelis’ dark biography of Charles Schulz next.


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