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.