I was looking forward to this book so excitedly and for so long, that it wouldn't have been surprising if I'd raised my expectations too high and founI was looking forward to this book so excitedly and for so long, that it wouldn't have been surprising if I'd raised my expectations too high and found myself disappointed once I'd finally read it. I hadn't, and I wasn't. I loved reading this book the way I have loved reading every book starring Vicky and John, because Elizabeth Peters has done such a good job of making me know and love and care deeply about her characters.
Even after more than ten years, Peters still writes those characters perfectly. She also recreated their world (albeit a modern version of it) and their lives down to the details--the thrillingly epic, the hilariously mundane, and the way that the larger-than-life has become routine for them while the frustrations of daily life can be often be dramatic--that we enjoy so much. She recreated Vicky's voice equally well. As always, there are one liners and bits of repartee that make me laugh out loud and want to bookmark the pages where they live, there are impassioned and touching declarations, and there are those thoughts that Vicky shares about life that I identify with so wholly.
The book is not perfect, of course. There are times when the pacing slows a bit, and there are a couple of instances of repetitiveness that some readers have put down to bad editing. However, this book is written in the first person; we hear what Vicky thinks. I don't think that it even calls for a serious suspension of disbelief to suppose that a subject of thought might occur to someone twice over a period of several days.
Some readers of mysteries may be troubled to find that they can identify characters or pick out some of the bad guys before their revelation to the sleuths--but for this series, in which there are recurring heroes and villains, this is in many ways a game that is played with the readers. Some of the revelations in this book have been speculated about and discussed by many fans for some time, but it was still a pleasure to find them out for certain.
Although I read this book in fewer than 24 hours, the pace of my reading did slow down near the end, because I realized that with every page I read, there was one fewer new page of Vicky. I knew I could only read new pages once, and that the remaining pages might be the last new pages of Vicky ever. Despite the sadness of that thought, I still thoroughly enjoyed all the pages, especially the last two or three, which not only made me grin, as they did Vicky, "a big, silly grin," but made me laugh and made me exult (if such a thing is possible). This is not my favorite Vicky--that will always be Night Train to Memphis--and it may not be the best (although I'm not sure I could determine which one is), but it fits right into the series without a problem, and if it is the last one, although I shall miss the characters dreadfully, it is a fitting end.
A favorite quote, from p. 229
Only Schmidt, the bloody romantic, spoke up in John's defense. "I will not believe it until he admits it." He considered the statement and then added, "Perhaps not even then."