From Publishers Weekly
The ninth in Hamilton's appealing series (The Thai Amulet
, etc.) takes chatty, always upbeat antiques dealer Lara McClintock to Hungary to research the provenance of the Venus, an ancient bust carved from mammoth ivory. Charlie Miller, aka Karoly Molnar, onetime lover of most of the "Dovercourt Divas" (six University of Toronto chums, including Lara, who lived in tiny apartments above a Chinese restaurant), unexpectedly turns up as curator of the Cottingham Museum and wastes no time in running up a huge expense account with the purchase of this mysterious objet d'art
. This tale bristles with confusing coincidences, such as the simultaneous arrival of assorted members of Toronto's social set in Budapest on various missions. Yet Lara, unfazed by her friends' skepticism, is determined to prove this million-dollar artwork's authenticityâ"and also the honesty (or lack thereof) of her ex-boyfriend from those heady university days. Interspersed with excerpts from a 100-year-old diary by the Venus's original finder, Lara's tireless quest gives an absorbing view of post-Communist Budapest and its surrounding prehistoric caves full of archeological treasures, like an old skeleton that she inexplicably decides to conceal under her hotel-room bed while making a side trip to London and Edinburgh. A drawn-out resolution comes as a bit of a letdown in this lively blend of romance, humor and occasional tragedy.
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Toronto provides an evocative home base for Lara McClintoch, a smart, funny antiques dealer who co-owns an antiques shop with her ex-husband, Clive. In this eighth in the series, the focus is on a group of college chums with whom Lara lived during her University of Toronto days. The six women reunite almost by chance and attend a museum opening together. Much to Lara's surprise, the museum's sexy Hungarian curator, Karoly Molnar, who is unveiling the 25,000-year-old Magyar Venus, is none other than her college sweetheart, Charlie Miller. She also discovers that most of her former roommates have had relationships with Karoly. When Anna, one of the roommates, commits suicide, Lara tries to find out if Karoly is somehow responsible--and if his renewed affection for her is real. Traveling to Hungary for further research, Lara learns that many of the roommates have secrets--some of them deadly. Lara's sharp wit and many foibles make her a highly appealing heroine. Hamilton once again combines an exciting mystery with fascinating historical and archaeological subject matter. Jenny McLarinCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved