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The Tomb of Zeus (Laetitia Talbot #1)

3.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  633 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
With the same flawless storytelling that earned her the CWA Historical Dagger Award, Barbara Cleverly delivers a dazzling new novel. Sweeping us to the exotic island of Crete in 1928, Cleverly introduces a marvelous new heroine: whip-smart and spirited Laetitia Talbot, an aspiring archaeologist with a passion for adventure–and for the mysteries that only the keenest eyes c ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Delta (first published January 1st 2007)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
346th out of 1,288 books — 3,275 voters
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth PetersThe Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth PetersThe Mummy Case by Elizabeth PetersAmelia Peabody's Egypt by Elizabeth PetersThe Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters
Archaeology Romance, Mystery, Suspense
32nd out of 123 books — 92 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,269)
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Jan 28, 2009 Christine rated it it was ok
This book really wanted to be good, worked super hard on it, put it lots of different things to try to keep your attention and then....not so much. It started off really slowly, but picked up and was honestly interesting for most of the middle part, but completely fell apart at the end. There were just too many threads to pull together, and too many coincedences required to make those threads come together coherently. Worse yet, the archeology in the book felt completely extraneous, even though, ...more
Deon Stonehouse
The Tomb of Zeus by Barbara Cleverly reminds me of the luscious MM Kaye books set in exotic locations. Cleverly’s latest book takes place on Crete in 1928. Letty arrives to begin her career in archeology under the eye of Theodore Russell, an arrogant retired naval officer turned archeologist. Theodore is rude to his guests and nasty to his lovely wife Phoebe. Finding William firmly ensconced in the Russell household surprises Letty, the last time she saw William he was running away from her plan ...more
Feb 07, 2013 Tina rated it did not like it
Blech. Book 2 of the mystery book club. Finally quit reading at page 160 because I just didn't care, no matter how hard I tried. Presumably this is an award winning writer, but I can't imagine how or why.
Apr 13, 2013 Marfita rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janice Liedl
Apr 24, 2013 Janice Liedl rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
An excellent historical mystery with a touch of romance. Laetitia Talbot arrives in Cyprus ready to work as an archaeologist, aiming to join into the thriving exploration of Minoan culture carried out by the likes of Arthur Evans and her somewhat less illustrious host, former British naval officer, Theodore Russell. Unfortunately for Laetitia, there are roadblocks to her ambitions, not the least of which is an unexpected death.

The archaeology storyline is intriguing but under-developed. I'm left
As I've often posted about before, I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series. And as y'all might guess with my recent post about finishing up Queen of Souls, I dig me some Greek mythology. So when I happened across The Tomb of Zeus on the new releases shelf in the Mystery section at Barnes & Noble the other night, I couldn't help but be interested: a period novel set in the 1920's, a woman doing archaeology, and moreover, doing it on the isle of Crete. Bitchin'. Sign me up.

Gail Chall
Yep, finished.....finally. Funny thing, Goodreads is having a problem saving my rating...barely 1 star. At first I thought I'd like this story because I really enjoy archeology coupled with my favorite genre--mystery. Eagerly, I looked forward to reading about the quest for the tomb. Instead, this book turned into a badly written Victorian love story which became stupid, no, not even stupid, just silly, and I found myself giggling about the various events. Wouldn't have finished it at all, but I ...more
Dec 03, 2008 Jeanne rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
1928. The Island of Crete. Dilettante Laetitia Talbot has arrived for an archaeological dig. Surrounded by men, she is determined to prove her prowess.

But before any digging may commence, her host's wife hangs herself. Or did she? Following her death, her host's son drives off a cliff. What's going on? And how long will it take Letty to figure it all out?

Well, I thought that Letty would be a plucky Amelia Peabody sort of heroine. She's not. And I couldn't really understand the appeal of our sleu
Mar 19, 2012 Bee rated it did not like it
It's unfortunate (for me) that this was compared to the Amelia Peabody series, as I went in with higher expectations -- not necessarily of literary genius, but of witty characters and an enjoyable mystery.

Honestly, I tried to muddle through this and eventually gave up. The characters were unlikeable and not interesting and the writing was on the dry side. Also, and this could absolutely just be a twitchy pet peeve of mine, but I've never seen so many exclamation marks in sentences before, to the
Jan 10, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Eh. Not up to the Sandilands books, I think this one tried to do too much. Romance, archaeology, mystery, bright-young-thing historical - and everything suffered in the end. I was particularly disappointed with the archaeology. The finds were lovingly described and clearly meant to drive the plot and add layers of depth and foreshadowing to the "modern" stories, but the author didn't give us enough to work with. The finds ended up being ancillary at best.

Parts of it reminded me of watching a tod
Jul 23, 2014 Jan rated it liked it
Gift from a friend.

Story: Letty is a rich kid interested in Archeology. The time frame is 1928. Letty is a modern women, however, men have yet to accept modern women.

She is off to Crete to work on a dig. On the boat to Crete Letty meets George, who is the son of the household she is going to stay at. Also his father is to be her boss. She is looking forward to this dig until she meets the father Theodore Russell who is a total jerk. His second wife, is lovely and Letty immediately warms to her.

Jul 23, 2011 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
c2008. It was a good enough story to keep me reading but it really was more fluff than flavour. I thought the characters were fairly one dimensional and the best parts had to do with the myths. I will not rush out to obtain any more in the series. Can you believe that the horrid phrase "living rock" appeared in the story as well. Does Ms Cleverley write fantasy under another name? (Not a real question)
Jan 29, 2015 Stuart rated it really liked it
This is the first book in a new (to me) series by Barbara Cleverly, featuring the rich young aristocrat and aspiring archaeologist Laetitia Talbot. It is set on Crete in 1928, and features a lot of archeology with the mystery / crime almost secondary. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – the book is very good.
In this story, Letty (as she is known) heads to Crete, recommended by her mentor, as a guest of the famous archaeologist Theodore Russell. Russell is a celebrity archeologist pretty much in
Jun 27, 2010 Michael rated it it was ok
I'd give this 2.5 stars. I liked the setting (Crete) and Letty is a strong female character. But I felt there was too much on the archaeology and not enough worrying about the death of Phoebe and catching her murderer. I also felt the ending was rushed, and I guessed the identity of the child in the prologue well before the end (well at least that made me feel clever.)
Apr 19, 2016 Julia rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It had its good points, but also a great deal of excess unrelated information to pad the covers. At half the length it would have been a good story with mostly engaging characters; as it was, the book seemed to move slowly -- bogged down by un-needed details.
Feb 24, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it

My first Barbara Cleverly read..overall it was pleasant story with terrific use of imagery. The reader is introduced to Laetitia Talbot, a female archaeologist who receives her first assignment in Crete through unconventional ways. Born into a life of privilege, Laetitia enters her first assignment with bravado and class. She is surprised to find in her assignment a past love, a bold host with high aspirations (those who stand in the way of them be warned), a lovely young wife with a secret, an
Jul 28, 2011 Elissa rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
The writing was pretty good, but I have to say I was a bit turned off by the main character. Also, I didn't feel like it was completely historically accurate- especially the dialog. But not a bad mystery novel.
Vic Lauterbach
May 12, 2016 Vic Lauterbach rated it liked it
Archeologist turned detective Laetitia ‘Letty’ Talbot’s first outing is set in 1928 Crete, and both the archeology and the mystery take time to develop. The first third of the book is slow, the middle third is quite good, and the last third workmanlike. The evocation of pre-WWII Crete is well done but feels like justification for her research, although the background does play a role in the story. The few times Ms. Cleverly strays from Cretan history are weak points such as when the odious schol ...more
BOTTOM LINE: #1 Letty Talbot, archeologist, Crete, 1920s. Layer upon layer of intrigue, nasty doings, and innuendo wreathed around a wonderfully plotted tale of darkness and death, and most of the characters are very good. This would have been a superb novel except for Letty herself - she’s surprisingly weakly drawn; we never truly feel with, or for, her, and this is a major omission.

Young Letty has landed a plum job, or at least it seems so at first: managing a new excavation site in the mount
Cheryl A
Oct 07, 2010 Cheryl A rated it liked it
Laetitia "Letty" Talbot is off on her first archaeology dig in the mountains of Crete. Staying with her host, Theodore Russell, one of the islands' leading archaeological experts, and his wife Phoebe, along with two other students and the artist/architect of the group, Letty finds herself in the midst of a number of power struggles. When Phoebe is discovered hanging in her room, the tension ramps up even more.

As the local police try to determine the true cause of death as well as any motives fo
Carolyn Hill
May 16, 2010 Carolyn Hill rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, but then its setting in Heraklion, Crete, and an archaeological excavation near Knossos was of particular interest to me. I studied archaeology in college and was fortunate to spend a wonderful summer as a student in Greece, which included study of the Minoan civilization on Crete. It was not only my favorite era, but my favorite place (except for maybe Delphi). So this story, the first in a series, which features a young British female archaeologist in 1928 and her first ex ...more
Dec 17, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Clever dialogue, a feisty and intelligent heroine, along with vivid descriptions of the culture and landscape of Crete circa 1928 meld to create a perfect historical mystery. Fans of Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody series) and Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs series) will be equally charmed by this first book in the Laetitia Talbot series.
Laetitia Talbot finds herself not quite welcome at Villa Europa, the home of Theodore Russell who is a prominent archaeologist on the island of Crete. Laetit
Jan 09, 2008 LJ rated it really liked it
THE TOMB OF ZEUS (Amateur Sleuth-Laetitia Talbot-Crete-1928) – VG
Cleverly, Barbara – Standalone
Delta Trade Paperbacks, 2007, US Trade paperback, ISBN: 9780385339902

First Sentence: The big gates were in sight and were standing open.

*** Laetitia Talbot is an aspiring archaeologist who has come to Crete. There she finds a man she’s known before, her host, Theodore Russell who is looking for the Tomb of Zeus and has assigned Laetitla a site for her dig, and his charismatic wife, Phoebe. Laetitia fin
Virginia Van
Laetita Talbot arrives in Crete in 1928 to work on an archeological dig looking for the Tomb of Zeus. She quickly realizes that evil is afoot in the Villa Europe, home to Mr. Russell, director fo the dig. When his much younger wife is found dead, Laetita is convinced it was murder, not suicide as everyone else believes. The "chick lit" romantic elements of this story and Laetita's perky "can do" attitude were at times annoying, but the setting and archeological details are well handled and Laeti ...more
Tamora Pierce
Set in the 1920s on Crete as the archaelogical boom rolls on, Laetitia is trying to make it as a female archaeologist. She sponsors a dig under the aegis of a local archaeological sponsor and member of the upper class who has definite issues with women, including Letty and even his lovely young second wife. Things go haywire when Phoebe is murdered and suspicion is promptly cast on the bigwig's handsome son by his first marriage.

There are twists within twists here, plus a little romance, but my
Apr 06, 2011 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a little slow, but almost as much of a historical fiction book and romance as it is a mystery.

The main character "Letty" Talbot travels to Crete to work as an archaeologist paid to find the Tomb of Zeus. She meets some unique people and is dragged into an intricate web of love, death, and family.

I enjoyed this book over all, but I'm not as into romances as others are so this wasn't as good for me as I'm sure it was for others. It was a little confusing (but not in a 'good' way for
Feb 09, 2014 Meg rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldnt-finish
Ended on page 117. I couldn't go any further. The dialogue was just so annoying that I couldn't get past it. People don't use that many exclamation points in real life-why write it that way? And do we have to read EVERY word that they think and subsequently comes out of their mouths? There was no filter, no editing to the dialogue. After realizing that I had tried this novel before, I should have stopped, knowing myself and that I don't just stop reading books for no reason. But I kept going bec ...more
Rossrn Nunamaker
Mar 03, 2009 Rossrn Nunamaker rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Read, but didn't finish. Was so bummed out, but I tried and tried and simply couldn't get into this book. I did make it to page 79 in paperback, but after more than once asking why I was still reading, decided to stop.

I'd read a couple of Cleverly's Joe Sandilands books and really liked them. So much so, that while waiting for Steve Berry's latest to get returned to the library and Matthew Pearl's to be released I gave this a shot.

It was awfully slow and not very fluid. There was nothing to grab
Nov 09, 2014 Katie rated it did not like it
Just could not get into this. partly because the dialogue was just long rambling sentences and not how anyone has actually spoken, regardlesa of the decade. in chapter 13 and the murder just happened...and no one acted believably.
Jan 29, 2010 Holly rated it liked it
I always enjoy stories about archaeology and thought this story was an interesting mix of history, myth, and mystery. I felt the story was a bit slow in the beginning and I almost wondered if I would make it through the entire thing (I found the dialogue hilariously absurd since it is so far removed from how we speak today...which is perhaps sad? :D), but by the end I was thoroughly engaged and caught myself speed reading with excitement. I love mysteries and I liked how this story tumbled apart ...more
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Barbara Cleverly was born in the north of England and is a graduate of Durham University. A former teacher, she has spent her working life in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk; she now lives in Cambridge. She has one son and five step-children.

Her Joe Sandilands series of books set against the background of the British Raj was inspired by the contents of a battered old tin trunk that she found in her att
More about Barbara Cleverly...

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Laetitia Talbot (3 books)
  • Bright Hair About the Bone (Laetitia Talbot, #2)
  • A Darker God (Laetitia Talbot, #3)

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