Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ellis Peters: City of God and Shadows
Detective Chief Inspector Felse Investigates

Set at the site of an imaginary Roman town on the Welsh border called Aurae Phiala, near the supposed towns of Comerbourne and Silcaster. More than just brain candy, references to archaeology, roman history, how to get rid of valuable ancient treasures, murders and attempted murders, unusual words: “How did any of us get here…in this tragic palimpsest of a city without people?”, “…the whole group…dispersed like a dehiscent fruit bursting” etc.
Charlotte Rossignol’s great uncle disappears; she goes off to the place he knew best, the site of Aurae Phiala, to better understand his work; there she meets Gus Hambro, a specialist in antiques who’s slightly mysterious; a school boy wandering around the site disappears and is later found murdered; someone tries to kill Gus at around the same time, but Charlotte saves him; the curator Paviour, and his much younger wife Lesley offer Charlotte a place to stay. Someone tries to kill Gus again, and he’s buried alive in an underground passage.

An enjoyable read; more action and more complicated than McCall Smith books. Of course there’s a love interest to keep it moving along – Charlotte knows there’s something not quite what it seems about Gus Hambro, but she saves his life all the same; we’re a little dismayed when he appears to fall for the siren-like Lesley, but naturally all is well in the end!

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