Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review: Sonnet of the Sphinx by Diana Killian (Poetic Death Mysteries #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters who continue to develop and grow
Cons: Pacing of the story a little slow
The Bottom Line:
Love a fun story?
This series is for you then
Third a tad slower

Literary Murder Strikes Again

Sonnet of the Sphinx is the third entry in the Poetic Death series. The series is set in the Lake District of England and stars American literary scholar Grace Hollister. In the first book, Grace met Peter Fox, a former jewel thief who now owns an antique shop. She has decided to extend her stay in England to see where their relationship goes, and seems to keep stumbling on literary capers.

Rogue's Gallery, Peter's store, has just bought a farmhouse full of antiques. While Grace and Peter are sorting through the items, Grace stumbles on a letter referring to a previously undiscovered sonnet by Percy Shelley. Naturally, this peaks Grace's interest. Unfortunately, the letter was written during World War II, and the writer disappeared right after writing it. Further complicating the search, the antiques' owner demands them back because he didn't intend to sell them.

As if that weren't enough, Peter's past comes walking right into Rogue's Gallery. Hayri Kayaci was a guard in the Turkish prison where Peter spent some time. Now he's back, demanding an item Peter doesn't know how to locate and threatening to use the extradition papers he brought with him if Peter doesn't cooperate.

When Hayri is found murdered after a concert at the local park, Grace's relief for Peter is short lived. They are the top suspects in the case, and the new inspector in the village won't leave them alone. Meanwhile, Grace is hot on the trail of the missing sonnet, or at least piecing together the life of the man who discovered it sixty years before. If she can just figure out who is trying to kill her, life could be perfect.

Fans of the series will enjoy the latest entry. This story has several different mysteries tangled together, the sonnet, the murder, and the letter writer's disappearance. We even get a little more about Peter's past. The story is ultimately satisfying, but the pace is slightly off, slowing down at times in the middle. Overall, this is a minor complaint.

The characters continue to grow. The cautious, predictable Grace of book one is gone, and there are several times she does things I wouldn't have expected her to do, yet perfectly fit who she is becoming. On the other hand, Peter is becoming more cautious about life. These two are great for each other, and it's fun watching their relationship continue to evolve and grow.

Several characters from the previous entries make appearances, and new characters grace the page. They are all sharply drawn and memorable.

One of the charms of the book is the setting. I hadn't heard of the Lake District in England before starting this series, but Diana Killian makes the area come to life. Despite the murders, she makes it so inviting I would love to visit it some day.

If you enjoy the Romantic poets, this is a series not to be missed. Don't let the subject turn you away, however. Sonnet of the Sphinx is a great tale that will appeal to anyone.

I do recommend you read the Poetic Death Mysteries in order.

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