A diffuse and unconvincing plot, sketchy character development, a villain clearly discernible to the reader, though not to the cast, and a dry dissertation on the Viking way of vengeance sink this latest offering from a prolific British author. Archeologist Arnold Landon, last met in A Secret Dying , must abandon his working-vacation plans with bookstore owner and romance novelist Jane Wilson, when his boss sends him on a dig for medieval artifacts at Birley Thore. At the same time, vinegary Detective Chief Inspector John Culpeper has had to cut short his vacation to investigate a horrible murder at South Middleton. Eventually, Landon and Culpeper will meet, as they have before, and neither will trust the other, a dynamic that proves nearly fatal for Landon. By then we will have learned that someone with a knowledge of Viking customs has killed at least four persons in England and abroad, each time carving up the body in the ``bloodeagle'' signature of Viking berserkers. In addition, the killer may have been associated with a unit of the Small Boat Services, a close-knit British commando squad which was ambushed in an operation five years earlier. This is an overwrought, humdrum offering from Lewis, many of whose other tales have been crisply plotted. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994 Release date: 01/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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