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A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery (William Monk)

A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery (William Monk) [Kindle Edition]

Barbara Cleverly
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Award-winning author Barbara Cleverly returns with this spellbinding new mystery featuring aspiring archaeologist Laetitia Talbot. In Athens in 1928, Letty begins a perilous race to unearth a plot steeped in betrayal, seething with retribution, and about to explode in a wave of lethal violence.

In the open-air theatre of the dark god Dionysos, Letty watches a performance of an ancient Greek tragedy. But the revenge that is exacted onstage, the dagger that is wielded, and the blood that flows in full view of the audience are not theatrical effects. As Letty digs for clues, she unearths disturbing secrets and dark animosities with catastrophic implications worthy of a Sophocles—but of far more recent vintage.

Now, as a killer cuts a merciless swath across a country in the throes of political instability, Letty herself steps unawares into the murderer’s savage spotlight—a light so bright she may not be able to see the dark figure behind it until it’s too late.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 619 KB
  • Print Length: 418 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385339917
  • Publisher: Bantam (23 Mar 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00338QEOM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #62,410 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laetitia Talbot: Episode 3 does not disappoint 21 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the third of Barbara Cleverly's books featuring Laetitia Talbot and the action follows almost immediately after The Tomb of Zeus.

The action has moved to Athens, which in May, 1928, is politically very insecure. The first couple of chapters set the scene and introduce some of the characters who hope to manipulate the situation for their own purposes. At last we meet Andrew Merriman, 'scholar and man of action', who has played such a pivotal part in Letty's past. We also meet his wife, Maud. While based in Athens Andrew is writing a life of Alexander the Great which in the current political climate could prove controversial.

The action has moved to October. In an amphitheatre in Athens, a new English translation of Aeschylus's Agamemnon is being rehearsed. Letty and Maud Merriman are watching. Both have played a part in the production and there is much to-ing and fro-ing throughout the evening making sure that everything is right. At the end, it turns out that perhaps things were too 'right', as Agamemnon has been truly murdered in his bath.

Once more Letty is involved in murder and intrigue. In many ways she is the same Letty, but because Cleverly is an excellent writer, she has grown and matured and is less exasperating than in the two previous books. You could argue that this makes A Darker God less funny than the other two, but it is still a clever and absorbing thriller full of interesting people and ideas.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 30 May 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read all her books, and I find this one a disappointment because the dialogue does not flow. I found it so stilted and jerky. This irritation became so distracting that I could not get to the plot or characters. I felt there were no protagonists, but many supporting, not very well developed characters. Was the author attempting to write a book which cleverly melded modern and ancient Greece? If so, the device was clunking.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much talk, talk, talk 30 May 2011
By JS - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted to like this series, and just can't. In this book, tedious pages are given over to what is supposed to be brittle and witty conversation, but all of the characters end up sounding alike and they aren't interesting enough to follow. William Gunning, a troubled former soldier/minister who is now romantically linked to Letitia doesn't get much exposure, and he's probably the best of the lot. Letitia is just tiresome - the character doesn't behave in any reasonable way, is too mature in one scene and too spoiled in another. I love the Sandilands series, particularly those set in India, and I wish Ms. C. would send him back there for more adventures.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The scream followed the unmistakable sound of a blade thrusting into flesh." 30 Mar 2010
By K. M. - Published on
A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery (Mortalis) is my introduction to Barbara Cleverly fiction, and I enjoyed getting to know Laetitia Talbot who reminds me of Deanna Raybourn's Julia Grey and Tasha Alexander's Emily Ashton, although Talbot's adventures take place in a later era.

It is 1928, and Letty, a forward-thinking Britisher, has just returned to Athens, Greece from an archeological dig. Her mentor, Professor Sir Andrew Merriman -- former soldier, " 'digger, classicist, and writer' " -- thinks someone is following him. It turns out to be Percy Montacute, a Scotland Yard chief inspector seconded to Greece. The two men served together in the military, and they catch up on the news. Merriman explains he is planning to stage a version of Aeschylus's play, Agamemnon.

A few months later, the dress rehearsal for the play is in full swing in an outdoor theater near the Acropolis. Letty is watching from front row center with Maud Merriman, Andrew's wife. "As the sun set, the evening sky began to flush with grey-purple light....It should have been a moment of deep peace but, somewhere just out of sight, a man was screaming in his death throes." As it turns out, the play and reality coalesce, and by the end of that evening a real body has been discovered. The Greek police and Chief Inspector Montacute are on the case. Letty is volunteered by Montacute to help him with his investigations, first as a recorder of witness information and then as someone whose familiarity with the Merriman house can ease the interviews there. But before twenty-four hours pass, someone else dies, and the victim, breathing her last, accuses a young woman who played the husband-killer Clytemnestra the evening before. Letty and her beau, rather agnostic Vicar Gunning, find themselves in a swirl of intrigue, both political and personal. Letty is certain the wrong person is being held for murder, but how to prove it?

Behind aspects of the intricate plot is a 1923 historical event called "The Population Exchange Between Greece and Turkey" which uprooted millions and caused deaths that could have been avoided. In A DARKER GOD, one man craves eye-for-an-eye revenge for the death of loved ones during that transfer, and he has targeted someone close to Letty. With a storytelling symmetry, the denouement takes everyone back to the amphitheater and AGAMEMNON, but the fates seem to have decreed that this production is doomed.

Cleverly seemingly effortlessly incorporates the echoes of Alexander of Macedon, Agamemnon, and the overseeing "dark god," Dionysus into her tale. She also finds place for the early twentieth century Eleutherios Venizelos, "world-renowned revolutionary, politician, and hero" and his "glamorous, mysterious" wife, Helena, as well as a few other historical figures such as the deposed George the Second, High King of the Hellenes.

Laetitia Talbot first appeared in The Tomb of Zeus (Laetitia Talbot Mysteries) and then in Bright Hair About the Bone (Laetitia Talbot Mysteries). This, her third outing, will likely not be her last as she has unfinished business in Salonika. And that's a good thing because it is a pleasure to follow such literary-laced, cleverly-plotted historical whodunits as A DARKER GOD.
5.0 out of 5 stars super historical mystery 27 Mar 2010
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
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.

Harriet Klausner
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There Was No Way He Could Escape or Flee His Fate..." 27 Jun 2010
By R. M. Fisher - Published on
Laetitia Talbot (or "Letty" as she's generally known) is back for her third mystery, once more discovering that a contemporary crime has eerie echoes of the past. Set in Athens in 1928, Letty watches the dress rehearsal of a performance of Aeschylus' "Agamemnon" in an open-air theatre, looking forward to the climactic scene in which King Agamemnon is murdered in his bathtub. She herself has prepared the dummy corpse for the event, and she's eager to see the effect. She's only mildly hampered by the presence of Maud Merriman, a dour, fussing, older woman that Letty nevertheless feels compelled to endure - mainly because Letty is the former lover of Maud's husband Andrew Merriman (as established back in The Tomb of Zeus).

But reality and drama merge when the bloodied figure in the bathtub is revealed to be that of Andrew; stabbed through the heart. Luckily, a police inspector is amongst the cast, and he ropes in Letty to help him organise the suspects, two of whom stick out in particular: the loud, arrogant Geoffrey Melton and the woman who played the part of the vengeful queen Clytemnestra: Thetis Templeton.

With Maud complaining of the house being watched, the fact that Andrew was on the verge of publishing a controversial book, rumors of illicit affairs and pregnancies, and the tense political environment, there are ample motivations and suspects for murder floating about. Teaming up with her love interest William Gunning, Letty makes it her business to do the right thing by her former-lover and discover the identity of his killer.

Although the Laetitia Talbot mysteries never *quite* match up to the excellence of Barbara Cleverly's other detective Joe Sandilands, the author once more plots a fascinating and intricate mystery that weaves together ancient history with the liveliness and discovery of the 1920s, all of which is laced with the themes and motifs of Greek mythology. Some basic knowledge of the time periods and famous characters that Cleverly involves may be helpful, as the likes of Alexander the Great, the legendary characters of Greek myth, various gods and goddesses, and even the more contemporary figures of Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos and his wife Helen, are all incorporated into the proceedings.

Also noteworthy is her use of "The Population Exchange Between Greece and Turkey" a treaty that was signed in 1923, and which caused the displacement of over two million people in the enforced immigration that followed, many of whom succumbed to poverty or illness after their expulsion from their homeland. I admit, I had never heard of the event until reading this novel, and in an essay written by Cleverly at the conclusion of the novel, she sheds more light on this rather horrific chapter of human history.

Cleverly has always been masterful at making her historical/mythological borrowings relevant to the plot, and that's certainly the case here, in which the consequences of the treaty are pivotal to at least one character's motivation. It's tied in neatly with the mystery of Alexander the Great's missing tomb and the mysterious gift that Andrew bequeaths to Letty, as well as the themes of vengeance and murder found in the opening story of Agamemnon.

Letty is a spunky enough female lead, though often overshadowed by her co-stars, and still not quite up to the standards of Joe - yet it's hard to dislike someone so witty and wise. The story itself has a few fits and starts in terms of pacing at the beginning of the story, but hang in there, as somewhere around chapter ten (they're quite short), things really start to heat up. Best of all, the story ends with the promise of new adventures to come, as Letty has a promise to fulfill in Salonika.
5.0 out of 5 stars More good stuff feom Cleverly 19 Mar 2013
By Ellen Taylor - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A Darker God, while in MNSHO not as suspenseful as other Talbot or Sandilands mysteies, is still a rollicking good yarn, and lots of informative tales of bothe ancient and modern Greece.

Looking forward expectantly to the next one!

Thank you!
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