Thursday, January 7, 2021

Book Review 2020 #9 - Tasha Alexander's In the Shadow of Vesuvius

In the Shadow of Vesuvius by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

When one goes to Pompeii one expects to see dead bodies. The eruption of Vesuvius preserved so many people in their agonizing final moments that you go there expecting not just to see the ruins of a city but also the inhabitants of that city. Though Emily stumbles on one that's rather fresh. This body wasn't killed by ash and debris, that's for sure. Luckily Emily is rather used to this by now. The unhelpful police, the danger, the intrigue, really, it's rather a normal holiday for her all things considered. So a killer is sending her notes? That's nothing new. She has her husband and her stalwart friends old and new to back her up as she tries to catch a killer. But a murder isn't the only thing uncovered at the dig, there are secrets from Colin's past that where hidden even from him when a young woman appears claiming to be his daughter. Could this be true? Could everything Emily thought she knew about her husband be upended? Could it even jeopardize their happiness? Could Colin choose this young woman and her needs ahead of Emily's? Emily would doubt it all if it didn't all fit so perfectly together. The girl's mother, Kristiana von Lange, was an Austrian countess who also happened to work with Colin while occupying his bed. Emily and her had a contretemps and Emily won at the cost of the countess's life. This girl is the living embodiment of Kristiana but with shades of Colin. There is no doubt who she is, the only doubt is what damage she can do to Emily, the woman whom she views as responsible for her mother's death. If Emily doesn't sort out her personal life surviving a killer doesn't matter if at the end of the day she doesn't come home to Colin.

Tasha herself would acknowledge the influence of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series on her own Lady Emily series. As an ardent fan of both I love when Lady Emily's adventures hew a little closer to one Amelia Peabody and her steadfast husband Emerson might have had. Therefore In the Shadow of Vesuvius fit the bill splendidly. Oh, to go on an excavation for a holiday in the ruins of Pompeii! And to solve a murder! This is literally combining two of my favorite things, my love of art history and crime solving. Because as someone who studied art history you can never discount the value of the eruption of Vesuvius. The preservation of the catastrophe showed us our first real glimpse of life from the time period. The use of color in homes alone was magnificent. Those cold white statues that we think of when we think of the ancient world isn't at all what life was like! I will never forget visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and stumbling on the famous room they have from Pompeii. I had seen it in all my art history books and projected large in the lecture halls, and here it was! Tasha's book takes that feeling of discovery and gives you an even more intimate connection. You have that constant feeling I had of stumbling on a piece of this famous site over and over throughout the narrative as Emily delves deeper into the ruins of Pompeii. What's more, the connection you develop to each and every character means that as the series continues when we find out who are secondary characters are we rejoice as if seeing an old friend. I don't believe Ivy has graced the pages of Emily's adventures for eight volumes! And then there's the irrepressible Jeremy! Everything about this series is like being wrapped in the biggest most comfortable blanket you could imagine and being handed a mug of hot cocoa and a cookie. Lucky for us readers each year we get to experience this joy anew, and this year's coming installment doesn't disappoint either.


Newer Post Older Post Home