The title: Street of the Five Moons
The author: Elizabeth Peters
Publication: HarperCollins, 1978
Got it from: DC, Aug 2009
I've been on such an EP kick lately. I've been gobbling up her books and have to force myself to slow down or I'll burn through them too quickly. Right now I'm alternating between Amelia Peabody and Vicky Bliss. Street of the Five Moons falls second in the Vicky Bliss series, after Borrower of the Night. It's an important one in the series because it introduces gentleman thief Sir John Smythe, who will become Vicky's main love interest.
Beautiful and blonde Dr. Victoria Bliss takes a holiday from her museum in Munich and goes hunting for art forgers in Rome (a favourite locale of EP's, also seen in the Amelia Peabody and Jacqueline Kirby books). Of course, she meets up with a cast of extremely quirky characters and there is non-stop action, starting with when Vicky is drugged and kidnapped from the Forum and is rescued by an unknown member of the smuggling ring (Sir John), who employs one or two or several shut up kisses in the process. (She does talk a lot, but to be fair Vicky also points out that John himself is a "long-winded devil.") Of course Vicky manages to stumble right into the thick of things, as Elizabeth Peters heroines always do, and everybody goes off to the palazzo of the very rich Count Caravaggio. It's the kind of house party setup - where everybody has lots of motivation and nothing is as it seems - that would make Agatha Christie weep with joy. The plot moves along nicely with more turns than a carousel until it's discovered Vicky is out to expose them all. I can't say too much, but she and Sir John do undertake what may be the longest escape scene in the history of literature. I counted about 40 pages. It's all good fun, tongue-in-cheek stuff, of course. I won't remember the details six months from now but it was all very entertaining, I assure you.