The Love Talker Mass Market Paperback – 31 Jul 2012
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About the Author
Elizabeth Peters earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. She was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1998. In 2003, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Malice Domestic Convention. She lives in a historic farmhouse in western Maryland.
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Laurie is invited back to the secluded family hold of Idlewild, where she grew up with puritanical Aunt Ida, animal-loving Uncle Ned, and fluttery whimsical Aunt Lizzie (who once tried to get signals from Arcturus, decided she was a reincarnated Egyptian princess, etc). Also coming back is her half-brother Doug; the reason why is that Lizzie's latest whim is somehow alarming -- she claims there are fairies in the woods.
The problem is, she isn't acting as she usually does during "whims", and she has photos with eerie-looking humanoids that do look alarmingly like malevolent fairies. There is also a newcomer nearby: the tall, dark and sexy Jefferson, the handyman/author who lives with the old people. And there are "old friends": a repressed religious fanatic who maltreats his family (because his daughters, especially the beautiful eldest, are "vessels of iniquity" and fiction is "lies") and most horribly of all, Hermann, the suitable, dull, pompous guy that Ida spends the whole book trying to fix Laurie up with.
But Hermann is not the primary problem on Laurie's mind. She's heard and seen mysterious lights and sounds out in the woods. Then, Lizzie's photos are stolen, and someone tries to run Laurie down. She and Doug must unravel a bizarre mystery with roots back in their respectable family -- but can Laurie even trust Doug? Can she trust Jefferson? And what dark secrets lurk in the woods?
Most Elizabeth Peters novels are pretty clean; this one rises a bit further, including Doug's ridiculous porn book (no excerpts, just the cover art), incest jokes, an underage love affair, dark family secrets, etc. And there is a bit of a weird feeling when Doug's secret is revealed (and Laurie's reaction to it). We are also given outrage, in the form of the obsessively religious woman-hater. At the same time we are graced with humor that few books can rival: we get those hilarious interludes with Hermann and his heavy-handed flirtations, as well as his sister flashing her bosom in poor Doug's face.
Laurie is practically trademarked as an EP/BM character, strong and self-reliant, with a barbed wit and none of that swooning business. Doug and Jefferson are a bit harder to classify, as both are ambiguous in the trust area in different parts of the book; they do, however, possess characteristics of the usual EP/BM hero (wit, intelligence, deception, big flaws yet are lovable), making it even more difficult to tell. Old fashioned Aunt Ida and Uncle Ned are endearing in their quieter parts, while Aunt Lizzie may get on the readers' nerves occasionally, with her relentless fluttering and faked innocence.
Overall, a big thick fat book, that makes a perfect guilty pleasure. Read and enjoy.