cover image A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery

A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery

Barbara Cleverly. Bantam, $15 (397pp) ISBN 978-0-385-33991-9

Set in 1928, Cleverly’s third Laetitia Talbot mystery (after 2008’s Bright Hair About the Bone ) offers a cleverer puzzle than its predecessors, but fails to measure up to her Joe Sandilands historical series (Folly du Jour , etc.). In Athens, the stabbed body of Sir Andrew Merriman turns up during a rehearsal of an English production of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon . Merriman, a classics scholar, was about to finish writing a biography of Alexander the Great that would answer two burning questions about the conqueror—the identity of his murderer and the location of his tomb. Fortuitously, Det. Chief Insp. Percy Montacute of Scotland Yard, who recently has been “[s]econded to Athens” as a CID officer, is a member of the play’s cast. Aided by archeologist Talbot, Montacute investigates. Talbot, who had an affair with Merriman, is a less memorable lead than such other female sleuths of the same period as Maisie Dobbs and Phryne Fisher. (Apr.)