A Terrible Beauty (A Lady Emily Mystery #11) by Tasha Alexander
This is an important chapter in Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves' life. I'm involved because I know what's gone on up 'til now. I re-live with Emily her feelings, fears and guilt. I must say though that what happens is a brilliant plot twist by Alexander, deserving of the Lady Emily story, and yet I am unsure as to how much the story stands by itself. If this is your first reading of a Lady Emily mystery it certainly points the way back to some intriguing times prior to now.
Emily's dead husband Lord Philip Ashton reappears. A terrible shock.
Colin Hargreaves, Ashton's best friend from childhood, is somewhat reserved throughout. Well, who wouldn't be. The ramifications are enormous. I picture Colin as a sophisticated man of his times, working for the British Government on hush hush business, the strong quiet type (still waters running deep etc. etc.) not easily thrown, but this certainly is one of those moments.
Emily has arranged a holiday with her friends Jeremy and Margaret at her villa on the Greek island of Santorini. A villa previously Philip's. The description of the villa, the island and it's people is vivid and real. It was very present.
And now Philip has reappeared on a dig near the villa, being pursued by shadowy characters who want the piece of an important relic, Achilles' helmet, that Philip found. Philip has become obsessed by it and has not revealed it to the dig authorities. In fact he is acting much like Golem acted with the ring. Murder and mayhem follow Philip putting all in danger. Others know of the relic's existence and are willing to kill for it.
The complications of having to deal with the returned husband, who to my mind is unhinged, are enormous. Is Philip's demeanour due to his illness in Africa years ago? Something is definitely off about him. He seems at times delusional, so overcome by obsession with Archilles' helmet, as to be lost to all reason. Hard to say! His attitude towards Emily is almost reverential. All very strange and yet somehow believable.
The story switches rapidly between the past and the present, and between Emily's viewpoint and Philip's. Only towards the end do we see Colin voicing his thoughts.
I loved the cover. Brooding and slightly malevolent, reflecting much that happens.
A NetGalley ARC