When a man is found murdered with an enchanting copy of the Charlemagne talisman in his pocket, amateur sleuth Vicky Bliss follows the trail of the gifted genius who created the fake to the narrow streets of the antiquity markets in Rome.
At number 37 on the Street of the Five Moons, Vicky meets a dangerously exciting young Englishman who catches her completely off-guard - a man whose scruples are as questionable as his intelligence is keen.
It is quite unusual for me to start a series a book number 2 deliberately, but just before we went away for the weekend, I was at the library trying to choose some audiobooks to take with us for our long drive, and there really weren't a lot of other books that really caught my attention, so I gave in and decided to break my own reading rules!
After I picked this book and bought it home from the library I had a big panic attack and had to check with some known Vicky Bliss fans that I wasn't going to regret this decision, and I was assured that no, it wasn't going to have any great impact....phew!!
Having read several of the Amelia Peabody series of books by this same author, I had some idea of what kind of story to expect, and I have to confess, pretty high expectations. Fortunately, the expectations were definitely met. This was such a fun read (errr...listen). The same narrator by the name of Barbara Rosenblat is also used in both series of books, and she is excellent. Certainly in the case of the Amelia Peabody series she brings an added element of enjoyment. I can't say for sure the same thing about this series because I haven't actually read any of the other books!
Anyway, about this book! Vicky is a art historian who is working in a museum in Munich. When a man is found not very far away and amongst his possessions is an extremely valuable piece of medieval jewellery. The museum is bought in because initially they think that it may have been stolen but it turns out to be an extremely well made copy. The sole clue that there is is a small piece of paper that has some crescent moons on it, and this clue soon leads Vicky to the Street of the Five Moons in Rome. Let the adventures begin!!
There is a foiled kidnap attempt by unknown assailants, Italian aristocrats, tempestuous mistresses, beautiful villas with gruesome grottoes in the garden, inept artists, a fearsome guard dog that Vicky manages to charm, and in the end a life and death chase.
The strongest aspect of this story is the repartee and relationship between Vicky and John, the "dangerously exciting young Englishman" mentioned in the blurb. The two of them clash verbally several times, but there is always a strong attraction between them, right from the first incident when they meet. John is also something of a mysterious characters because you never can quite tell where exactly he stands. Is he a good guy, is he the bad guy? For a while I half expected that he was going to end up being an undercover agent of some description!
The mystery itself is quite interesting as well. In the Amelia Peabody series, the author is sharing her knowledge of Egyptian archeology. In this series it is art history, and once again she manages to make a subject that wouldn't necessarily be all that interesting very interesting, to the point that there were times I wished that I was reading at home so I could go and Google and find pictures of the pieces that were talking about. Given that we didn't have electricity, or mobile phone coverage where we were staying, that wasn't possible but it is something that I will bear in mind for future books in this series. However, before I read future books, I am going back to read the first book in the series, Borrower of the Night. Oh, and from Rosario's review of this book, I've learn that John actually has a cameo appearance in a standalone book called The Camelot Caper, so I might give that a go in due course as well.
Oh, and it appears from the author's website that she is writing another Vicky Bliss mystery. Good news indeed for all of her fans!