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Pompeii: the Peacock Murders

Pompeii: The Peacock Murders’, written by Lorraine Blundell, is set in the interesting and famous city, Pompeii, as young women start disappearing and a series of unique and recognisable murders are occurring throughout the city. It follows characters Cletus Asper, an undercover investigator, and his assistant Felix as they attempt to solve these bizarre murders and delve into the horrors of the past. All the while, the active volcano Vesuvius erupts.

This is a historical mystery thriller set in Pompeii and filled to the brim with interesting and engaging characters. To start off with the best aspect of the novel is the setting, Pompeii.

Lorraine Blundell went through great lengths to accurately portray this renown city and it is evident in all aspects of the story. From the ‘simple tunics’ to the ‘silk-made stolas’, from the ‘volcanic lava paved stones’ to the ‘coloured frescoes of peacocks and theatre masks’, it’s obvious that the setting is packed with historical accuracy. Not only this, but it is consistently told in engaging ways, not once did I find myself skimming any of these parts.

An abundance of characters appear throughout this novel, which can be troublesome, as sometimes a reader does not get the chance to understand, relate, or even like the characters of a novel if there are so many of them. Pompeii: The Peacock Murders evades this well in some areas and not so well in others. A few times, I found myself interested in a character only for them to never appear outside of that page. That being said, those that were explored were done well and Blundell did a good job in showcasing motivation and interests.

Other than the setting, one of the biggest aspects of this novel is the mystery. When this was first introduced, it was very intriguing and a bit heart-breaking. And while it continued to be so, eventually Pompeii: The Peacock Murders turned more to the motivations of characters, which is not harmful. In fact, it’s the opposite because doing so expanded our knowledge and judgement of certain characters. The reveal was satisfying, some readers will definitely guess who the culprit is but even though my prediction was right, it was still satisfying. And that, in my opinion, is the sign of a great mystery.

Ultimately, this is a fantastic historical fiction novel that was an enjoyable read and those who love this genre will have much to dive into.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B08G4JX8ML

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Herculaneum: Paradise Lost

Herculaneum: Paradise Lost by [Lorraine Blundell]

The stunning seaside resort of Herculaneum happens to be one of the most exotic and appealing places on Earth. It is home to people from all walks of life, all social statuses, and boasts breathtaking views and lucrative businesses. Even those who have little manage to have a full and happy life in Herculaneum. What many there seem to forget is its beauty is overshadowed daily by its position relative to the one thing that can change the lives of every man, woman, and child who dwell there. Herculaneum, its residents, and all of their hopes and dreams lie adjacent and vulnerable to Mount Vesuvius.

Herculaneum: Paradise Lost, by Lorraine Blundell, details the events leading up to, and the eruption of, Vesuvius and the lives most impacted by the tragic event. Blundell includes a large cast of characters who, at the outset, seem unrelated. From the beginning the book reads like short stories all loosely related, but by the book’s ending, the author pulls the characters together and unites their seemingly disconnected plots.

Though several of Blundell’s characters have subplots based on intrigue, I felt that there was a lack of one single overarching climax to the story. That being said, the cast of characters are interesting enough to keep readers engaged and invested in the plot.

Set in 78 AD, Blundell’s work is an easy and engaging read. For a time period known for vibrant language, this particular book reads smoothly and the author’s choice of verbiage is uncomplicated and lends itself well to the characters’ varied plots. In rare moments there were phrases like “fast food” that I thought were out of place, however these moments were few and far between and only stood out because of the rich and powerful language utilized so expertly throughout the rest of the novel.

Though Prima isn’t necessarily set as Blundell’s main character, I was left with the impression that hers was one of the most striking subplots. The almost positive spin the book puts on her job as a prostitute flows well with the idea that Herculaneum is a virtual paradise where everyone is happy and fulfilled no matter their choices in life. The turnaround Prima is able to make with her life–her second chance–is a beautiful metaphor for new beginnings.

Anyone who enjoys an element of history in their dramatic fiction story will enjoy Blundell’s work. Herculaneum: Paradise Lost is a fantastic and quick read with poignant lines, rich characters, and a powerful message.

Pages: 238 | ASIN: B084JCM3RT

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