From Kirkus Reviews
An installment in the ``Time Quest'' series alternates scientific assessment and valid speculation about the recently discovered skeletons at Herculaneum with a fictional reconstruction of Vesuvius's eruption. Bisel tells how she came to examine the skeletons in 1982, then introduces readers to a slave, ``Petronia,'' hours before the volcanic explosion. Bisel next reveals her conclusions, drawn from jewelry found with the skeletons and their bone structure, mineral content, etc. Readers are left to determine to what extent Petronia's story is fact- based, and how much is inference and/or interpretation. Shown in full-color photos complemented by artists' renderings of ancient times, these discoveries are fascinating. But the book's greatest strength is Bisel's manifest compassion for the objects of her study--even during the most reductive evaluations. Those who clearly comprehend the factual/fictional components of this historical alloy will find it utterly involving. Glossary; chronology; further reading. (Nonfiction. 8- 12) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.