Sentence: It took the British Museum five days to realize
that they had lost their Caryatid.
When Lord Elgin brought part of the ancient temple marbles
back to London, it became a subject of conflict between England
and Greece. Now, one of the Caryatid—a beautiful, 7’
tall maiden who was one of six temple’s columns--has
been uncovered as a fake and the real column missing. Lord
Powerscourt is asked to handle the case, but soon an art theft
also becomes a murder investigation.
One of the many things which makes this book so appealing
is Dickinson’s voice, which conveys the style of the
period, and use of humor…”It was the stroking
[of the statue’s hand] that confirmed to the attendant
on duty that this latest visitor was probably insane and certainly
needing intercepting before he embraced the Caryatid...”
Dickinson has created wonderful characters in Powerscourt,
his wife Lady Lucy—who has a countless number of useful
relatives, and Johnny Fitzgerald—an Irish peer who was
in the war with Powerscourt, and who is overly fond of drink.
I particularly appreciate that Lucy is not a show piece, nor
does she run around and help solve the crimes. Instead, she
is a clever and intelligent women whose opinion and views
others take quite seriously.
We also have Ragg, the director of the museum who reads Shakespeare
sonnets to calm down; and Inspector Kingsley who is writing
a children’s book on the Elgin Marbles as his cover.
For those who have followed the series, it is also nice to
see the Powerscourt children, particularly Thomas, now grown.
The pacing of the story is very well done. The story moves
nicely at a steady pace, offset by periods of high excitement
In addition to excellent descriptions, we are also invited
to share the wonderful flights of fancy that Powerscourt’s
mind can take: “…’Are there any more bids,
ladies and gentlemen?’ Powerscourt thought this was
like the Jane Eyre moment in the wedding service…”
as well as appreciate several well-done metaphors…”…Sokraitis
was dying, his liver now a thing of the past, this other organs
shutting down one after another like flowers closing at the
fading of the light.” The inclusion of Powerscourt’s
dream inspires a whole thread lending itself to contemplation
Death of an Elgin Marble is a bit overcomplicated
at times with a tendency to go off on fairly long literary
tangents, but it is wonderfully written, with some excellent
plot twists and relates the timely issue of to whom to antiquities
belong. All-in-all, it was fascinating.
of other titles in this series
& The Jubilee,
Death of an Old Master, No 3
of a Chancellor, No 4
Called To The Bar, No 5
on the Nevskii Prospekt, No 6
on the Holy Mountain, No 7
Death of a Pilgrim, No 8
of a Wine Merchant,
Death in a Scarlet Coat, No 10
Death at the Jesus Hospital, No 11 [review
of an Elgin Marble No 13
Comes to the Ballets Russes No 14