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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 18 September 2012
Surprised that this has received so many 5 star reviews. I agree that the plot is clever and that the 2 time lines work well together ...but the writing is not good. There is little distinctive characterisation, most characters speaking in the same rather slangy way. I could not get used to a Vestal Virgin saying things like 'OK' and 'Hang on a minute'. The lack of physical description of the characters, except references to the Virgin's stunning blue eyes and golden hair, made it hard to get any empathy with them. Makes the Dan Brown mistake of huge chunks of historical exposition in the most unlikely places. Also the use of Lecter for Lictor gave a rather odd frisson! Overall a good idea, but execution leaves a lot to be desired.
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on 4 June 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I'm not sure I've previously come across a heroine who is a librarian, nor a tough guy secret agent whose mother features in his adventures.

It's not giving away any secrets to say that the Vestal Virgins are involved because the book's first chapter is set in 54AD when a young girl is taken from her family to join the temple.

For the next chapter we switch to the current time when a mysterious coin is brought for identification to our heroine India Sommers at her library. India is also a historian and expert on old coins and is asked to help the police after the coin's owner is murdered and the library burned down. But is the policeman who he says he is?

Chapters alternate between the story of Rubria, a Vestal Virgin in Roman times and India in an increasingly dangerous investigation as bodies are discovered and signs of an ancient and powerful secret cult are uncovered.

The author has the knack of making both threads so gripping you are irritated when you have to swap to the other one and then you don't want to return because you are so involved in the then current story.

Historical facts and actual places are weaved into this story with real skill, and this is a book you will not want to put down as it hammers along at a terrific pace.

Cracking good entertainment!!
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on 31 May 2012
Brilliant story line - fantastic mix of history, suspense and intrigue. The story is told in two eras but the mix is seamless and at no point was I confused as to where I was, as can happen when author's try to do this. Easy reading, excellent historical portrayal of life and times without being heavy at any point (I'm not a great lover of historical fiction usually for this reason). Would fully recommend this book to anyone looking for a good old fashioned escapism reading experience.
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on 8 February 2013
The Dead Virgins is a quick and enjoyable read. I don't know a great deal about the historical period in the book ( Ancient Rome) but it all sounded 'right' as if the author had done plenty of research.
The book alternates back and forth between Nero's Rome and the present day where India ( a specialist in the period) and Brandon , a Special Forces operative are about to team up to solve an ancient mystery.
Even though there were a few jarring moments in the historical sections with the use of phrases like -
"Centurion, are you okay?" And "Hang on, said Rubria, I'll get you a drink." -I did really enjoy this thread of the story.
Rubria is a Vestal Virgin living during the dangerous times of Nero's rule and the burning of Rome is also nicely woven into the narrative.
I was less sure of the modern thread where India hardly bats an eyelid as she is recruited by a man she has just met and sets off on a dangerous mission. There is a lot of banter, quite Indiana Jones in places; maybe the historical thread would have been complimented a little better by a slightly more 'serious' modern story.
However, I was really impressed by the way the two threads were skilfully woven together making an enjoyable and fun read that pulled me along at a fair pace. And after a complex plot there is also a good and satisfying ending.
As other reviewers have mentioned, some closer attention to editing would improve the reading experience.
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on 20 November 2013
The Dead Virgins story line is quite well woven.
However, the number of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and historical inaccuracy made me, as a teacher, furious that a publisher's proof reader could miss so many and that there were so many mistakes in the first place.
Also some of it - when India was giving the background to Vesta- made me wonder if some was cut and pasted.
The writing is not particularly original.
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on 8 June 2012
The Dead Virgins is a fabulous mystery/adventure, leaping continents and jumping through 2 millennia as the hero and heroine follow a trail of dead bodies and historical clues in search of a kidnapped child. The author builds the story around the ancient tie-in meticulously and delivers it partly through dialogue and partly through flash-back chapters, making it seem completely believable and yet not dragging down the chase by dumping too many facts on the page all at once.

The reader is quickly involved with the characters, championing them on as they overcome obstacles and holding your breath as they run up against dead ends. Either of the two stories being told in tandem here would be a good read; together they are superb.
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on 16 August 2012
India Sommers is a librarian and historian. One day whilst working at the library a stranger asks her opinion about an ancient but obviously fake coin. Telling him that she will do some more research on the coin, she locks it in the library safe and goes home. On her way, she finds the stranger murdered outside the library. Overnight, the library is set on fire and she arrives to find police, fire-fighters and a man purporting to be a senior police officer: Brandon Walker.

Together, they find that the safe has been broken into and the coin stolen. India and Brandon start to investigate and it transpires that Brandon is a special service intelligence officer, investigating the disappearance of the Prime Minister's niece.

Soon they realise that the murders of two other young girls in London may be connected to the disappearance of the Prime Minister's niece and all are connected to the cult of the Vestal Virgins from ancient Rome.

The book flips effortlessly between the years 64AD and 2010 AD and each chapter provides additional clues to the mystery. India and Brandon travel to various European locations to piece the mystery together and face danger at each step.

The book is well crafted, and well described. The characters, both in 64AD and in 2012 AD, have depth and it is easy to begin to like them. The book is so well written that each chapter virtually ends on a "cliff hanger" and it is almost impossible to put the book down (don't ask me how I know that!).

I look forward to reading more from this author.
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on 21 December 2014
What can I say? When you restrict your reading to Kindle deals of the day for the sake of economy, you know most of these frogs aren't going to turn into handsome princes with a virtual kiss.
Started off ok, The writer, had done his research, I'm assuming it was accurate, however huge chunks of the 'pre-story' was delivered in the form of a lecture from the knowledgeable India. I think this book was supposed to be the new Da Vinci Code - ancient artefact- nasty religious cult concealed by the mantle of Christianity....nasty deaths.
Was it self published? Are there no longer such things as editors, or even proof readers? The worst thing about this book was the writing. The setting switches between ancient Rome and Modern Britain. There are a few clichéd attempts to sound ancient Roman, but the anachronisms are grating. Whatever a Roman priestess might say to indicate her assent its not going to be ok. Ok? Am I being too picky?? What about the misplaced apostrophes? The you're instead of your; calling the 21st century heroine by the name of the 1st century one. The girl who twists her ankle dropping into the dark which is never mentioned in the subsequent escape.
I have to say my heart sank as the hero announced he was going to open a specialist detective agency so look out for more along the same lines.
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on 9 January 2015
This story alternated between the Roman period of Emperor Nero, with vestal virgins
worshiping the Goddess, and 2010 with historian India and an SAS man, Brandon.

I enjoyed the ancient story more than the modern one which was an over complicated plot of
murdered young girls, a kidnapped girl, a creepy and violent cult who still worshiped
the Goddess and both India and a group of Italians trying to find the statue sacred to the Goddess
which disappeared from Rome at the time of Nero's burning of the city.

There were great chunks of history about vestal virgins, etc. which India had to explain
to Brandon. This slowed the plot down, I felt. Also the dialogue between India and Brandon
was a little like a "Boys Own" comic book. There were a lot of dead bodies along the way.

Overall it was an o.k. read, but I probably won't bother with the next in the series.
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on 14 May 2015
One story, two time zones. Once you get used to the jumping back and forwards it begins to get interesting. The story was okay, I couldn't get used to the slang expressions being used in the Roman period, very out of place, I've never come across them in my Latin lessons!

I think this could have been proof read a bit better and the ending felt "rushed" as if the author had become fed up by his plots by now and just wanted to get it finished and out of the way. This could in fact have been written as two stories! Maybe it started out in life as actually that!

That said, I would be interested to read any other books he's written, he certainly researchs his books well.
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