silhoutte in scarlet – a vicky bliss mystery by elizabeth peters

Posted on May 22, 2010


John Smythe tricks Vicky Bliss again into a swindle. Can we blame her for throwing another hissy fit, especially when it leads to amusing results?

For years since the art heist Vicky foiled in Rome, the two have enjoyed a rather odd relationship. I think they invented ‘complicated.’ Once a year he woos her with fake treasure, then leaves her in the lurch, with cops or crooks hot on his trail. This year, it’s a fake rose. a one-way ticket to Stockholm, and a cryptic message in Latin.

What is John up to this time?

Status Change. John Smythe is Master Thief to Cowardly Thief to Almost Hero.

In this sequel, Vicky gets to sharpen her claws, not only on her sometime-lover, oftentimes-adversary John but also on a gang of ruthless criminals. The game plays out on a remote island. Vicky has never been this close to getting killed before.

This is my favorite Vicky Bliss yet, because it offered me delightful insights into John’s character. He’s not a master thief after all but more like an opportunist who will run at the first sign of trouble. But it’s pretty obvious in the end that he’s crazy about Vicky.

A series of mysteries framed by this delightful interaction can become addicting. Who can resist following up the taming of the thief by the gorgeous historian? Or is it the other way around?

Vicky Bliss the series is not all fun and biting wit, though. The chase scene near the end is one of the best I have ever encountered, as if Vicky et al fell from a comedy sitcom into a dark and murderous world.

Silhouette in Scarlet is sequel to Borrower of the Night and Street of the Five Moons. First published in 2000, its cover had gone through several incarnations. It’s actually quite interesting to see the covers all together. What I don’t get is the cat. Vicky is a dog person.

Posted in: mysterious