The 100 Books Project: Silhouette in Scarlet.

A man can’t understand why a woman’s handbag is such a sensitive object-almost an extension of her person. I don’t fully understand it myself. Maybe it’s because we keep so many private, intimate possessions in our purses- love letters, cosmetics, jelly doughnuts…Maybe a purse is a symbol of the womb, or something equally Freudian. I can’t explain it, but I know I hate the idea of a stranger’s hands rummaging through my bag.


“Silhouette in Scarlet: A Vicky Bliss Mystery” by Elizabeth Peters

While a considerable improvement above the last chick lit mystery I read, Lean Mean Thirteen, Silhouette in Scarlet was still an underwhelming read, though interesting enough to hold my attention. The third volume in the exploits of Valkyrie-built art historian Vicky Bliss (I haven’t read the previous two) brings the reader to an isolated island in Scandinavia, where a series of events that fit only in the vaguest sense of logic brings her into the thick of another supposedly seedy dealing in the world of art trading.

How seedy? Vicky and her art thief kinda-boyfriend John Smythe (not his real name; I bet you wouldn’t have guessed) are being held at the threat of murder (only sometimes as gunpoint) to excavate some field on a private island owned by a very, very distant cousin of Vicky’s to find treasure. I’m not sure if it’s just the lightness of the writing of this book or my own lack of perception but, quite frankly, I never found the threat placed upon Vicky to ever be that…well, threatening. Somehow, you’re not that concerned for the characters when their main peril appears to be, “Dig in this field and if you don’t find anything, we’ll kill you,” but when Vicky asks if she could go for a walk because she’s bored and the bad guy says, “yeah, sure.” ….you probably see where I’m coming from.

The book was at least entertaining. There were a few witticism and remarks that got a smirk out of me, but, for the most part, I found Peters’ handle of action and interactions a little muddled. You got the general gist, but you also felt like you missed some sort of detail, like there was a slight of hand that just made it appear that the actions worked, but if you think about it too much, you start to wonder if it really should have.

I don’t think I’m about to jump out to the bookstore to find the other Vicky Bliss novels, but it was a nice little filler book to pad up my numbers.

By the way, ‘silhouette’ is one of those words I continually struggle to actually spell correctly. Usually, I take that as a sign that it’s too high-faluten anyway, and just use ‘shadow’ instead.

Books read: 31 out of 100.

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