The Night Villa
Nothing is as it seems in Carol Goodman's The Night Villa. Don't trust any assumptions until you've reached the last page.
Professor Sophie Chase' past catches up to her when the ex-boyfriend of one of her students disrupts an archeological meeting, shoots Sophie in the lung, kills two of her coworkers, then kills himself.
Sophie is a classics professor. Elgin Lawrence was her history professor while she was still a student. She knows how he is with women - he can't be trusted. When he approaches her after she recuperates about joining an excavation on the isle of Capri, she agrees to go. She has a few reasons. She wants to study a freed slave, Petronia Iusta, who was the basis of Sophie's thesis. Iusta probably died when Vesuvius erupted. Sophie also wants to watch over her impressionable student, Agnes, who is Elgin's current interest.
Also, Sophie's old boyfriend, Eli, may be trying to contact her. Eli left her to join a cult. The cult is being investigated by the FBI, but there is nothing known to break them up in any way. She learns that Eli is able to leave if he wants. Did he try to call her the day of the shooting? She wants to get away to Capri.
A donor funded the expedition to Capri to uncover a Roman villa that was destroyed when the volcano erupted. It is possible there are some priceless ancient scrolls there, including some that may help Sophie learn more about Iusta. But there is something else underlying the proposed intent of the archeological dig. Sophie doesn't realize that purpose could cost her life. And she doesn't know who she can trust.
Once again Carol Goodman catches me up in her novel. The Night Villa starts fast and keeps going. But I didn't get involved until about a third of the way through. Even then, I couldn't have guesses the threads within stories within threads that Goodman would use to weave her magic.
Despite the fast start, I wasn't sure I wanted to continue The Night Villa and almost put it down early in the book. I'm certainly glad I didn't.
The book is written in Sophie's first person narrative. That gives it the extra spin that personal reflection often has. Sophie spends many of her thoughts in the past - both her own and on the uncovered scrolls from Iusta's lifetime.
Enjoy. And know you can easily get caught up in Goodman's tangle and caught out by what you thought would happen.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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