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A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery    by Barbara Cleverly order for
Darker God
by Barbara Cleverly
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A Darker God is the third (following The Tomb of Zeus and Bright Hair About the Bone) in Barbara Cleverly's historical mystery series starring spirited (and emancipated) young archaeologist Laetitia Talbot. Cleverly is also well known for her popular Joe Sandilands series.

Readers join Laetitia in 1928 Athens, where she has come from Crete, accompanied by her lover, Reverend William Gunning (a 'renegade priest'). But Cleverly takes her time setting the stage before Laetitia appears on it. She starts with a foray into history for King Agamemnon's murder by his wife Clytemnestra on his return to Mycaenae after the Trojan War, and continues to show us a modern Greek monarch, George the Second, receiving a mysterious missive in 1928 London.

Following this, a furious Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Percy Montacute is dispatched to 'Greece, land of flawed heroes!' on a mission that relates to Prime Minister-in-waiting Venizelos and his lovely Greek-English bride. In Athens, Percy introduces himself to Laetitia's ex-lover and mentor, Professor Andrew Merriman, who offers him a role in his production of Aeschylus's play, Agamemnon. Cleverly also shows readers a vengeful figure, Soulios Gunay (a star in his own real life Greek tragedy), who has murder in mind and a plan already underway.

Next we join Letty and Maud Merriman as they watch a rehearsal of Merriman's play, in which murder becomes a reality. Percy Montacute swiftly switches from acting to leading the investigation, and Thetis Templeton (Maud's lovely young cousin who played Clytemnestra) becomes the chief suspect in more than one death. As always, Letty is deeply immersed in the investigation. She becomes a target herself, as she discovers that there's a great deal more at stake than appears on the surface.

In a Dossier at the back of the book, the author speaks of a 'chilling historical theme' that is central to its plot, that is the 'ethnic cleansing and the displacement of over two million people' (forced to relocate between Greece and Turkey) that European politicians signed off on in 1923. Cleverly offers sources for anyone interested in reading more about this tragedy that's 'little known outside the Balkans'. Her many fans will not be disappointed in A Darker God.

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