In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Lady Emily Mystery

Written by Tasha Alexander
Review by Susan McDuffie

1902: Lady Emily and her husband, the dashing Colin, visit Pompeii as guests of Emily’s old friend Ivy. While touring the ruins and viewing the remarkable plaster casts of the victims of the ancient tragedy, they are surprised to find one with distinctly un-Roman sideburns. It turns out that this fresh, plaster-encrusted corpse is that of an American, a Mr. Walker. Emily and Colin begin to investigate, but their idyllic Italian visit is thrown into turmoil when a young woman appears at their villa. Kat claims to be Colin’s daughter, the offspring of his earlier affair with an Austrian countess. Will Emily and Colin solve the murder of Mr. Walker? And will their marriage survive the unexpected arrival of Kat?

This story plays out against another drama, the story of Kassandra, a talented Greek poetess, her friend, Lepida, and Lepida’s husband Silvanus. The more ancient tale unwinds in AD 79, under the shadow of a grumbling Vesuvius, and climaxes with the fatal eruption of that volcano.

Emily and Colin sift the dust of ancient Pompeii for clues to the recent mystery, while Kat’s appearance brings emotional earthquakes and upheavals into Emily’s world. Kassandra’s story proves equally compelling. The two plotlines ultimately converge to provide a satisfying ending to the novel. Fans of the Lady Emily mysteries will enjoy this mystery, as will readers who enjoy Edwardian mysteries and fans of stories set in the classical world.