Matilda Gray, a parapsychologist, was used to the skeptical reactions she got from people when she explained what she could do. It is true that she was top ranked in her field and was an expert on antiquities, especially Roman and Celtic artifacts, but that doesn't mean she was respected. When Scotland Yard asks Matilda to work with a detective, Gareth March, to solve the murder of a woman and find out who was stealing artifacts from a new dig, Matilda was intrigued. She also despised those who stole artifacts that belonged in a museum and was excited to discover the history of the Roman fort that she would helping to excavate.
When Matilda arrived at Corcester, she knew that the case was going to be harder to break than she thought. First off, she had to work with the pompous head of the dig, Howard Sweeney, who always seems to get the credit for others' hard work. Because Howard does his best to avoid work in any way shape or form, Matilda is stuck looking after the student volunteers. She cares for all of them, but she is particularly concerned about the lovely young Ashley Walraven, who seems to have taken up with a wanderer who could potentially be the murderer. Then Matilda has to deal with the belligerent owner of a nearby horse farm, who owns the land they are excavating, and is in it for the money. It wouldn't be so bad if she could get Gareth to believe in her visions of the past and to work with her instead of going off on his own and not telling her vital information. With so many suspects, her work and her disturbingly realistic visions of the Roman fort when it was still in use centuries ago, Matilda will have a hard time catching the killer before he or she strikes again...
I enjoyed this mystery, as I have enjoyed all of Lillian Stewart Carl's books, but I have to say that I feel that this was her weakest book by far. The mystery had great potential and was set in an archaeological dig - one of my favorite locales - but it just wasn't used very much in the story. Carl did such a great job incorporating the mystery in Dust to Dust on an archeological dig and so I was expecting something equally fabulous. Carl did provide a lot of information regarding Roman and Celtic artifacts and managed to sneak in quite a few points of history so the story is actually quite educational, but it can get a bit dull on the longer passages. Although Matilda and Gareth are the main characters, we also see the story from Ashley's point of view, and I didn't particularly enjoy the multiple points of view. Gareth was drawn to Matilda, but she was quite a bit older than he and had that power, so they never really got together. Theirs was more of a promise of romance that may have come about in a physical way, but never went anywhere else. Ashley had a couple of love interests, which were kind of interesting, but she was pretty naive and socially inept so it was more like reading about a teenager. While I wish I could recommend this book wholeheartedly, I find that I can only recommend it as an interesting mystery with some historical background thrown in for good measure. Also, although the book is well written at the exorbitant price that you have to pay for this book, I would say go and find a nice copy of Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust, both by Lillian Stewart Carl, and both of which are much better than this one (not to mention a whole lot cheaper!).
This report prepared by Debbie