Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lara McClintoch novels - Book Reviews

Lara McClintock Archaelogical Mystery series
by Lyn Hamilton
Berkeley Prime Time
Authors website
The Etruscan Chimera 2002
The Thai Amulet 2004
The Chinese Alchemist 2007

I have just read Lyn Hamilton's website, sadly to learn Lyn died of cancer in September 2009. She was 65 years old.

The Etruscan Chimera

A Chimera is a mythological animal with the head and body of a lion, a second head of a goat and a serpent for the tail.

Lara McClintock is hired by a reclusive and wealthy collector, Crawford Lake, to purchase the Bellerophon statue that goes with the Arezzo Chimera. The Bellerophon is in France. The Chimera is already in the Arezzo museum in Italy and Lake wants to get them back together. These two pieces of art was created by the Etruscans who lived in Italy before the Roman Empire began. Both of these names (Bellerophon and Chimera are mentioned in Book six of the Iliad.

While trying to purchase the Bellerophon, Lara becomes involved in the theft of an Etruscan Hydria water jug. She also finds the private collector who owned the hydria dead. On her way to see Mr Lake, Lara finds the hydria again. She inadvertantly smuggles the hydria across the border from France into Italy.

Lara eventually discovers that Mr Lake is not who he says he is, and that there is a group of Etruscan fanatics who are stealing Etruscan artifacts from private collections around the world and smuggling them into Italy to be held at a private museum.

The Thai Amulet

A young friend of Lara's named Jennifer, has fallen in love with a fellow university student. This student is from Thailand and Jennifer is off to Thailand to meet his family. At the same time William Beauchamp goes missing in Thailand and his wife asks Lara to look for him, so Lara accompanies Jennifer to Thailand. William had sent his wife some amulets and Lara takes them back to Thailand with her.

Once in Thailand, Jennifer discovers that her boyfriend is the first born son of a well known Thai family that own a huge business corporation. The son is being groomed to take over the mansgement from the father and will not be permittrd to marry a foreigner. Jennifer is heartbroken.

Meanwhile Lara begins looking for William. She also find out that the amulets that william sent to his wife are very bad. They are not the usual designs. And Lara finds another mystery. Where 50 years previously an american woman had killed her husband and child and then disappered.

In this book Lara solves the mystery of the 50 year old murder, and the secret of the amulets.

I learnt a lot about Thai history, culture and geography in this book.

The Chinese Alchemist

A wealthy Eurasian collecter in Toronto(Dorothy Matthews) ask Lara to bid on a small chinese box that is going up for sale at a local auction. The box is withdrawn from the sale just minutes befor the sale is due to start. Dorothy dies from the stress. Some months later, the box agains comes up for auction - only this time in Beijing.

Lara is asked by Dorothy's widow to go to Beijing and see if she can purchase the box. At the auction the box is stolen in plain site of several viewers including Lara. Lara follows the thief to Xian where she discovers that Dorothy's family have been raiding an unknown imperial tomb from the area and that the 3 boxes originally came from this tomb.

The 3 boxes are engraved with parts of a recipe on them - the recipe to immortality.

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