Monday, July 07, 2008

REVIEW: Suddenly As a Shadow

Title: Suddenly As a Shadow
Author: Roy Lewis
Protagonist: Arnold Landon
Setting: the area around Morpeth, Northumberland, England, 1997
Series: #12
Rating: B

First Line: There was a time to kill.

Normally I'm very careful about reading series in order; it's just one of my personal idiosyncrasies. Somehow I managed to jump from #4 to #12 in the Arnold Landon series. Fortunately I wasn't thrown off stride! Arnold works for the Department of Museums and Antiquities in Morpeth, Northumberland. In his free time, he likes to walk the countryside and see if he can find ancient buildings, for if there's one thing that Arnold knows, it's ancient stone and wood.

In Suddenly As a Shadow, Arnold is saddled with a difficult supervisor, Karen Stannard, and the case du jour involves Ravenstone Fell, a planned leisure center that's going to be built virtually on top of an ancient burial site. Arnold is invited to one of the Ravenstone meetings, and his supervisor shows up with her friend, Cate Nicholas, who's an extremely abrasive professor at a near-by university. Cate is thrown off the property, which enrages Karen. Karen has Arnold dig into the Ravenstone matter to see if all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed. Cate, who's recently been given her own television series on a local station, uses some of that information to create a furor, and she ends up being beaten to death. Arnold finds himself reluctantly dragged into the investigation.

I enjoy this series because of Arnold's love of ancient stone and wood, a love that I share, and for the part of England in which the books are set. The book begins with a scene in Prague where a man is murdered and then immediately jumps to Morpeth a few years later. Although the change in locale threw me slightly off balance, Prague did tie into the story at a later stage. I downgraded Suddenly As a Shadow a bit because of characters that I just didn't care for and because the culprit was too easily guessed. The characters aren't Lewis's fault, unless you believe (as I do) that he portrayed them too well!

If you enjoy mysteries with strong ties to archaeology and old buildings as well as an easy-going, "normal" main character, chances are that you will enjoy Lewis's Arnold Landon series.

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