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Entertaining, elegant and eerie. 'Signatures in Stone' is a mystery novel whose protagonist is a novelist writing a mystery. Daphne duBlanc finds herself in a rundown villa in a wild part of central Italy, ensconced with travelling companions and guests of questionable probity. All her certainties will be put to the test, but with the likeable insouciance that characterizes her, she manages to weather the increasingly uncanny happenings that disrupt her days and nights. Drawing on her in-depth knowledge of art, history and Italian culture, author Linda Lappin delivers a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking performance. The vivid sensuousness of the villa in Bomarzo and its sacred wood, the sharply observed characters, as well as the stylish prose - all this is a delight for the reader and I thoroughly recommend it.
Signatures in Stone is a wonderful novel. Through sometimes dream-like, sometimes almost visionary, and always beautiful prose and imagery, Linda Lappin weaves a story that grabs the reader right away, and pulls us into not just the story but the lives of its characters. Our main point of view is a woman whose perceptions may or may not be 'real,' and this creates a wonderful sense of possibility as she - and we through her eyes - explore the garden of Sacro Bosco in Bomarzo, Italy, to discover the truth that wraps itself around time and the iconic and frightening statues that are witness to events both dreadful and mundane. Is it murder or is it imagination? Does each item we see mean something, or is it simply an object left behind by another person in another lifetime? This novel carries the reader through these questions in search of one of life's many puzzles: what is the meaning, and can we understand events in our own lives, or others' lives, through the things - and people - we leave behind? Let this story surround you, and find out.
An old villa, a victim of time, 6 people, victims of themselves and a white cat - these are the characters in Linda Lappin's newest mystery, Signatures in Stone. Ms. Lappin takes the reader to Bomarzo, Italy. It is the late 1920's and Daphne has arrived from Paris with her agent and close friend Nigel. She has made the trip in the hopes of clearing her hashish muddled head and setting pen to paper to write her next novel. But Nigel has brought a friend along. His friend is Clive, a Texan with brushes and easel and an eye for women. Before she knows it, writing gives way to temptation as Daphne and Clive become lovers, and no writing is done. But almost as soon as it begins, the affair ends as Clive takes up with the rude and distant servant girl Amelia, owner of the white cat. Amelia, it would seem, is intent on making Daphne's stay at the villa as unpleasant as possible. But Amelia has a dark secret in her past, one that follows her and informs almost her every move.
Another guest at the villa is Dr. Finestone, an academic directing the renovation of the The Sacred Wood, an overgrown Renaissance garden filled with phantasmagorical sculpture. Daphne finds herself drawn to the garden, visiting it day and night. All is not beauty and light at the villa. Manu, the gruff and sometimes violent manager of the villa has a secret too. Soon Daphne is drawn into a world, part dream, part reality, and the reader is drawn along with her. This book was a joy to read, a real page turner. Best of all, the ending was a complete and unforeseen surprise. Ms. Lappin is a master of the Gothic tale, and I can not wait for the next Daphne novel.
This is a masterfully written cozy mystery that takes you to Italy. The descriptions of Italy are wonderful, and gives you the true essence of the place.
The story takes place in 1928. The heroine, Daphne, is a writer of mysteries living in Paris, who has a taste for hashish. She is having trouble completing her next book, so her publisher takes her to Italy to get her away so she can write in peace.
The fun starts when they arrive at a old rundown villa with a surly maid and a garden full of mysterious statues.
The story slowly and beautifully unfolds, and is expertly told. Some of the best writing I've seen in a while.
(Comment to the publisher: there are more typos in the text than one would expect from a bona fide publisher. In fact, the first word is a typo. It should be "We," rather than "He." I know this because it makes sense in the context, and I heard the author read part of the first chapter in Rome.)