Thursday, June 19, 2008

Review of The Arthurian Omen, by G.G. Vandagriff

My review of The Arthurian Omen for my Summer Book Trek 2008 Challenge:

From the back book cover of The Arthurian Omen:

Is the story of King Arthur history or myth? A Celtic scholar is brutally murdered wh she finds a clue to a priceless fifth-century manuscript that could prove the identity of King Arthur. Determined to find the ancient relic and avenge her sister's death, Maren Southcott begins a quest that immediately puts her own life in danger.

In the tradition of Mary Higgins Clark, The Arthurian Omen weaves a tale of mystery and suspense as pursuit of the manuscript winds through the medieval castles and monasteries of Wales. Stalked by a psychopath with delusions of a Welsh revolution, Maren is shaken to the core when a new crisis threatens to destroy the one person she loves most.

Can she find the manuscript before the murderer strikes again? Or is the manuscript--and the legend--better left buried in the past?

In spite of what I felt were a few glitches in plot, I found The Arthurian Omen curiously hard to put down. In fact, I was up till 1:30 AM riding the rollercoaster ending all the way to…well, the end.

As a medieval history buff who usually finds myself firmly on the side of the English, I enjoyed the mental stretch in exploring the “Welsh side” of events that took place during the 15th Century reign of King Henry V and his campaigns against Prince Owain Glyndwr in Wales. This proved the historical focus for the 21st Century characters, as much, if not more, than the actual saga of King Arthur. I thought the research was very well done, and the author is obviously very familiar with the history and terrain of Wales.

Plotwise, I only had a couple of quibbles. The chief inspector from Scotland Yard who is supposed to be protecting the heroine from a would-be murderer, inexplicably leaves her alone in the company of his two main suspects while he wanders off at one point to investigate another thread of the plot. Later, the heroine, who has previously had a very narrow escape from being strangled in her hotel room, decides to go for a midnight run all alone in the middle of Wales and…yes…has yet another frighteningly close brush with, this time, a gun toting thug. This incident in particular made it very hard for me to reconcile her with the highly intelligent professional attorney she supposedly was.

While I had some trouble with the heroine, I found the men of the story quite engaging, with the exception of the heroine’s slimy second husband, whom I was obviously expected to loathe, and did.

As a mystery, I had great fun trying to figure out who was guilty of which crimes as I wove my way through the book. Some of my guesses proved to be correct, though the red herrings were quite sufficient to make me grin with glee when my suspicions were confirmed. And to the author’s credit, when the identity of the modern “Owain Glyndwr” was revealed, my jaw dropped and I actually exclaimed out loud, “I never saw that coming!”

The suspense was so high at that point, that I literally could not put the book down until I’d read my way clear through the concluding epilogue.

However, in retrospect a day after finishing the book, one more quibble arose in my mind. The author accounted for all the possible suspects’ relationships to the heroine’s murdered sister, except for the man who was actually guilty of murdering her. Or did I merely miss it? If there are any other readers of The Arthurian Omen out there, please let me know…did the author slip up, or did my memory go faulty on me?

Would I recommend this book? Definitely! Despite the quibbles listed here, The Arthurian Omen is an engaging, fast moving mystery that will keep you reading into the wee hours of the night.

G.G. Vandagriff's website:


LDS_Publisher said...

Great review! Thanks for participating in the Summer Book Trek.

Gamila said...

I just finished this book! I really loved it. Yeah, tis true the heroine did go out jogging really stupidly twice. Alas. Most of my problems came with not liking the beginning of the book. The beginning took off way too fast for the characters to be realistic for me. You know, I don't know if she did say how the guy who murdered her sister was related to her. Yeah, the red herring was fantastic! The murderer totally surprised me too! I really liked the book.