I like archeological mysteries and I bought a bunch of Lyn Hamilton's series at a local used book store. The series features Lara McClintoch, an antiques dealer. She's in business with her ex-husband, which causes some problems. In this book, Clive, her ex, gets the brilliant idea that to stimulate interest in their antiques business, Lara should lead a history / antiques tour somewhere in the world. They pick Tunisia.
A varied group signs up for the tour. A couple of celebrities, a couple of widows and single women, a fellow antiques dealer whose interest is ancient coins, a guy who only talks about investments and is constantly on his phone. One member of the group is found dead in the swimming pool, but it wasn't an accident according to Lara. She has experience with murder. A fire breaks out in a travel critic's room. The clothes and accessories in another member's room are rearranged and her necklace is stolen.
There's an archeological 'dig' going on in the harbor, searching for a sunken ship with a cache of gold. One of their members dies and one is injured. That's not an accident either. Someone tampered with their air tanks.
There's a lot going on. Mixed in with the contemporary story is the story of the sunken ship, sunk in the time of Carthage. So I had some fun and I learned some things, too.
This was my first Dorothy Whipple book. I've already bought another of hers, Because of the Lockwoods. I loved this book, a domestic mid-20th century novel. It's a genre that I've previously disregarded. My copy of The Great Mr. Knight, which seems to be the American title of They Knew Mr. Knight, was from my library, firmly covered in unremovable plastic, hence the lousy photograph of an interesting cover.
Thomas Blake works at the factory his family founded. Against Thomas's pleading, his father sold the factory to raise cash after his mismanagement caused the business to falter. Thomas believes that the factory should be his. He, his wife and three children live in The Grove, a respectable neighborhood.
Thomas contrives to meet Mr. Knight, a wealthy financier who rides the same train. Knight takes Thomas under his wing and gives him investment tips. He buys Thomas's factory and puts Thomas in charge. As he makes more money, Thomas and his family move up the wealth ladder. They move to Fairholme, a house his wife doesn't like.
When Knight moves out of his country estate, Field Place, and back to London, he suggests that Thomas buy Field Place and offers him a good deal. He and his family love Field Place. But Knight has abandoned Thomas and Thomas has gotten himself entangled in too many questionable financial dealings, in way over his head. You see what is coming, don't you? I did, but I still wanted to read about how each family member reacted to their changing fortunes.
I felt it was time for more mystery and a move to Sicily, so I reached for an Inspector Montalbano book by Andrea Camilleri. They're dependably good. I can't form a good image of Montalbano, though. I believe him to be a middle-aged (early 50s), sort of heavy man, not especially attractive - but women in the books seem to find him appealing. He's always getting involved with beautiful women, despite his longterm, long-distance relationship with his girlfriend / fiancee (?) Livia.
There are two mega yachts in the harbor. One has brought in the body of a badly beaten man, so badly beaten that he can't be identified. The wealthy owner of the sailing yacht is gorgeous and overbearing. The woman from the harbor master's office is gorgeous, too, and attracted to Montalbano. They play relationship tag.
Montalbano is, as usual, in trouble with the police department he works for. He lies, he avoids, he annoys his bosses. But he does figure out the identity of the dead man and the secret of the two ships.
This classic was interesting for many reasons. I realized that this book and The Great Mr. Knight were both about reaching for financial and social success and the risks people will take to acquire and keep them.
Pere Goriot lives in a down at the heels boarding house. It appears he's very poor, but he always seems to be able to sell something when one of his spoiled daughters makes a demand. He was once wealthy, a self-made man. His daughters' wishes were always granted, so they grew up to be selfish and thoughtless women, continuing to make financial demands of their poor father while relegating him to his poverty and shunning his company. Both are married to men of social and financial standing. Goriot worships his daughters.
A young medical student is also a boarder at the house. He comes from a modest family in the country, but he soon abandons his studies for the more attractive social scene. The problem is that he doesn't have any money. He thinks that being a doctor will take too long and won't produce enough income. He decides that he must edge his way into society, which he does with the assistance of a distant relative. He plans to marry or pledge himself to a wealthy woman.
He has a choice between another boarding house resident, a young heiress whose father refuses to recognize her. If her father makes her his heir, she'll be very wealthy. She's a sweet, innocent pretty girl. But he's attracted to one of Goriot's married daughters. Goriot likes him and is delighted. He does everything he can to encourage the relationship because he thinks the young man makes his daughter happy and that her husband doesn't.
My goodness. I'm glad I don't have either social or unattainable financial goals. I wanted to shake several of the characters in the novel, Goriot and his daughters, and others, too. At the end, Goriot realizes what his daughters are, but he blames himself. It's a sad ending.
I hope that life is calming down and that I will have time to continue reading Don Quixote. It's a funny and surprising book, but a long one. I haven't found a good audio of the whole book, parts 1 and 2, to listen to while reading. That helped me through Moby Dick and I was hoping listening and reading would get me to the end of Don Quixote. I'm not forcing myself to read it, I just need a nudge to keep focused. Wish me luck!