borrower of the night – a vicky bliss murder mystery by elizabeth peters

Posted on May 11, 2010


Elizabeth Peters specializes in cozy, but very fun, mysteries. This series no exception—It has all the ingredients we adore of a late-night-curl-before-the-fireplace-book (in my tropical home, a bedtime read with the electric fan on full blast): high on witty banter, oddball characters, a funny romance, and historical intrigue, which soon develops into something hairier.

A brainy and beautiful art historian. A treasure hunt. A medieval castle with secret passages. A battle of the sexes aka professional rivalry. An infatuated co-professor. And a possibly murderous, possibly ghost.

Vicky Bliss, college professor and ever competitive, gets entangled in a race to find a missing shrine by a famous 16th-century German sculptor. Never to back down from a challenge over intellectual superiority, especially one issued by an arrogant sometime-boyfriend male colleague, she travels to a medieval German castle in the town of Rothenburg following a scholarly hunch. The castle proves to be a vortex for a set of mock dilettantes and professional miscreants.

Vicky has to have all her wits, and wiles, about her to stay ahead of the game. And dig her way out of a crypt, and certain death, while she’s at it.

Despite being a brainy bombshell, Vicky is strangely naive at the effect she has on men, which resulted in quite a few misconceptions, and a funny last six pages. Reminded me of some old 60s and 70s comedy-mystery movies. The authentic history worked into the plot was cool, but with all that talk of facts and figures the pace sort of dragged there for a while.

Never mind, the catty dialogue got me through the slow parts. I love Vicky Bliss because she’s no Peggie Sue, thank God.

I hear from reliable sources that a master art thief will make a grand entrance in the sequel. I look forward to that.  Outraged heroine versus hot villain interaction. I like Tony well enough, but he’s too much of a boy for Vicky.–she’ll remain a juvenile-ish geek if she sticks to him. But I have yet to see if this thief will be more than a match for her.

Posted in: mysterious