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The Tomb of Zeus (Laetitia Talbot #1)

3.3  ·  Rating details ·  750 Ratings  ·  111 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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Rating details
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Jan 25, 2009 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
This is only the second Barbara Cleverly mystery I've read, but I am hooked. I'm considering her my "find" of 2017. The sense of place and of its culture, in this case Crete, is so strong in her novels, that it can easily be said the setting becomes a living entity. Her characters are written strongly as well and make vivid impressions when the reader meets them within the pages of her books. Much of this may have gone over my head, as I'm not well-versed in Greek mythology or ancient poetry, bu ...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
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
While I liked the archaeological content I found the story somewhat plodding. Though #1 in the series there were several references to the past relationship between Lettie and William that made me feel I had missed a previous book. I'm sure all will come clear in future entries but I still hate being teased like that. From this first taste I would not place the Laetitia Talbot series among my favorites of Cleverly's series.
Jun 22, 2009 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.
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.

Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janice Liedl
Apr 21, 2013 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
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
Nov 03, 2008 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
Feb 29, 2012 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 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, 2011 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)
Jun 27, 2010 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.)
Jul 17, 2011 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.
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Readers who like light history mixed with mystery!
Please note, I have "rounded up" on this rating, butthe story itself is really only worth 2 &1/2 stars at best. Also, while I quite enjoy Barbara Cleverly's writing, will someone please tell her that "Murder on the Orient Express," has already been done ( and to far better effect!) so please stop using that method!
There are really three stories going on here: Our heroine, Laetitia Talbot, is a newly minted archeologist in search of "pastures new" to dig up on the island of Crete. Then, there
I enjoyed this. I had to keep reminding myself that it took place in 1928: so many things seemed like they could be happening now, even though much about the relationship between men and women was clearly appropriate for that decade but not for ours. The setting on Crete was interesting, and I particularly enjoyed the archaeological dig, though I was a bit confused about who/what they had actually discovered. Laetitia was thoroughly enjoyable, and it was easy to share her opinions of the other c ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
(Fiction, Mystery, Historical, Series)

In February 2014, I greatly enjoyed one of Cleverly’s books from her Joe Sandilands series. Since then, I had heard positive things about her Laetitia “Letty” Talbot series, so I decided to give it a whirl, starting with the first in the series.

Set in 1928 Crete, it features aspiring archaeologist Letty, determined to succeed in a male-dominated field.

The mystery was solid, and kept me guessing, but I am so weary of Golden Age heroines with modern-day sensib
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
This cozy mystery, set in Crete in the 1920s, is a bit too long and leisurely-paced, but the story did keep my interest . The characters are stock: the arrogant male archeologist who takes on a wealthy, well-educated, independent single woman and a World War I veteran who are assigned their own archeological site to explore. The archeologist has a young, wealthy wife and a grown son, both with their own secrets. Of course, the patriarch has his secrets, too. This is the first in a series, with t ...more
Lana Sims
Jun 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dour Mystery

The historical, archaeological touches were interesting, but the plot is littered with multiple unlikely events and subplots. The heroine is immature and a bit irritating.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
JoAnn Steinly
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read with good characters and a strong sense of place.
Pat Kidd
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
While these are good stories with a good character, I prefer the Joe Sandilands stories.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very good mystery. Good atmosphere. Interesting historical details.
Laurie D'ghent
Okay. I was more interested in the historical, 1920s lifestyle and the Crete stuff than the actual story. Nothing super offensive, mild swearing, innuendo, anatomy talk, etc.
Jan 18, 2015 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
Jan 09, 2008 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
Carolyn Hill
May 16, 2010 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
Feb 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Rather purple prose. Tried, but DNF.
Vic Lauterbach
Apr 05, 2016 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
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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

Other books in the series

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