Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Review: In the Shadow of Vesuvius by Tasha Alexander

In the Shadow of Vesuvius (Lady Emily Book #14)
by Tasha Alexander
Release Date: January 7th 2020
2020 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250164735
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

2.5 / 5 Stars

Eager to explore ancient sites and modern archaeological digs, Lady Emily jumps at the chance to accompany her dearest childhood friend Ivy Brandon on an excursion to Italy. Soon old friends are joined by new, including the American siblings Benjamin and Calliope Carter (he, a moody painter, and she, a freethinking archaeologist capable of sparring with even the Duke of Bainbridge's most devious flirtations). But when the two women, along with Emily's devoted husband Colin Hargreaves, uncover a corpse and the police dismiss the murder as the work of local gangsters, Lady Emily leaves behind museum tours and villas to investigate.

But an artful murderer is nothing compared to the sudden appearance of a beautiful young woman who claims a shocking relationship to the Hargreaves family. As Colin warms to the girl, Emily must endure an endless stream of slights and snubs. Someone else has it out for Emily, too, someone who keeps sending her threats. Undaunted, Lady Emily's desire to unearth the truth takes her from Pompeii to Naples, to ancient times and back again. But how far below the surface can she dig before she risks burying herself along with the truth?

My Thoughts
In the Shadow of Vesuvius is the fourteenth entry in the Lady Emily series, and although it's been awhile since I've picked up a book in this series, I now remember why I haven't really read any of these books in a long time; I just don't find them all that interesting any more.  Let me explain.

Emily and her husband Colin, a spy for the Crown, travel the world looking for adventures, often finding themselves amongst ruins, doing these very interesting touristy things, and getting involved with local affairs often implying the local police are not capable of looking into matters themselves or are always trying to cover things up.  This book is no exception, as the wealthy are in Pompeii, visiting the excavations that are currently happening there, spouting off history about the place and some of the travesties that have occurred due to unscrupulous archaeologists in the past who were looking for treasure rather than historical knowledge.  They sound so presumptuous it just makes me want to clench my jaw.  Then, voila, you throw in a murder that only they can figure out, implying the local police are idiots and do not want to get involved due to the local 'mafia\, setting Lady Emily up to investigate at her leisure.  Maybe it was just the mood I was in when I read the book, but I was irritated by the lot of them as they swash buckled around the site looking for clues, naturally discovering things that everyone else missed.  

As is par for the course, the story alternates between the present day with Lady Emily and to two thousand years ago just before the famous eruption that destroyed Pompeii. That story revolves around a young slave girl who is used for her poetry by a devious man.  For the life of me though, I couldn't find a connection between her story and the present one, except they both wrap up in Herculaneum.  And the fact they found scrolls which were then gifted to Lady Emily didn't quite sit right with me especially considering her views about excavation and treasure hunting.  Nope, nope, nope!!

Having visited Pompeii however, I did find the descriptions of the city to be interesting and I could picture it in my mind.  I found that to be the most intriguing parts of the book, and while Lady Emily can sound a bit pretentious spouting off her tidbits of history, the research that went into this book is evident and for historians like myself, quite fascinating. I was really glad she mentioned the discovery of the library and the scrolls.

In the Shadow of Vesuvius was not for me. I found the mystery to be somewhat choppy as all Lady Emily did was go around and talk to various people without there being a big investigation, something I found a bit pompous anyways.  I wasn't thrilled about the introduction of Colin's relative to the story as I found her annoying. I did enjoy the descriptions of Pompeii however, which is what drew me back to this series. However, I think it will be a long time before I return to this series myself. 


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