A Darker God
Bantam, Mar 23 2010, $15.00
In 1928 in Athens, archeologist Sir Andrew Merriman directs a production of Aeschylus's Agamemnon in the Athenian amphitheatre. During a dress rehearsal, Sir Andrew replaces the dummy in the bathtub stabbing scene. He is dead with a knife to his heart as his wife Lady Maud and his former lover Laetitia “Letty” Talbot watch the practice session.
Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Percy Montacute happens to be one of the performers while assigned to CID duty in Athens. He and Athenian security chief General Konstantinou lead the investigation with Talbot as a consultant while her lover William Gunning objects. The police quickly arrest Maud’s cousin Thetis, another of Sir Andrew’s lovers and who had the role of Clytemnestra, but free her. Observers inform the cops the two cousins argued loudly in public just before Maud fell off a balcony to her death. Since Talbot is named in Merriman’s will, she becomes a suspect too. However, after being abducted by a psychopathic Macedonian, she realizes Sir Andrews’ soon to be published work on Alexander is the underlying motive to the homicides that include more victims.
Talbot’s latest historical mystery (see The Tomb of Zeus and Bright Hair About the Bone) contains a terrific whodunit with a strong sense of time and place. The engaging storyline brings out Depression Era Greece through the archeologists, the play and the police procedural investigation. Although archeology seems to be a deadly affair in this series and none of the cast match up to Scotland Yard Detective Joe Sandilands (would have been neat if he instead of Montacute was conveniently in Athens), fans will enjoy A Darker God, reminiscent of Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple.