Silhouette in Scarlet: Vicky Bliss, #3 -- Elizabeth Peters
Things to love about Vicky Bliss #98: She keeps jelly doughnuts in her purse.
It's been three years since Vicky solved the mystery of the Street of The Five Moons* and a year since she's seen John:
We had spent three days together in Paris. On the third night he had departed out of the window of the hotel room while I slept, leaving behind a suitcase full of dirty clothes, an unpaid hotel bill, and a tender, charming note of farewell. My fury was not mitigated when I learned, from a sympathetic but equally frustrated inspector of the Surete, of the reason for his precipitate departure. They had waited until morning to close in on him, feeling sure--said the inspector, with a gallant Gallic bow--that he would be settled for the night.
The police wouldn't tell me what it was he had stolen. I didn't really want to know.
This time around, John lures Vicky to Stockholm by sending her a red rose (fake), a plane ticket (the cheapest possible), a hotel reservation slip (not pre-paid, of course) and a piece of paper bearing the words WIELANDIA FABRICA:
Scandinavia, fabled goldsmith, jewel thief . . . It made an odorous little syllogism, as neat and as crazy as one of Lewis Carroll's exercises in logic. John was on the track of a Viking treasure. Or rather, that is what John wanted me to believe. I didn't believe it. If he really intended to commit grand theft, I was the last person to whom he would broadcast his intentions. The message was just a lure, a juicy chunk of bait--and a fairly ingenious one. My interest was definitely aroused.
When she gets to Sweden, she discovers that (of course) John is Up To Something -- but that he has competition, and that his competition isn't at all friendly. Within days, Vicky is wooed by a giant blond man named Leif (who may or may not be a government agent) and is possibly being stalked by a small, round, bearded man. Aaaaand then she, her possibly fake sixth cousin and John are imprisoned on an island where John's rivals plan to carry out a full-scale excavation... and then murder John.
Make sense? It doesn't matter. We've got Vicky, John, Schmidt, buried treasure and a villain who gives Vicky advice about her love life. Also, Elizabeth Peters is totally aware of the cliches of the genre and mocks them while still using them quite effectively. Who needs sense? Oh, swoon. These books make me almost deliriously happy.
*The Mystery of the Street of Five Moons. Ha ha. I just made up a Nancy Drew title.