Book Reviews

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With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels; 
one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!

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Dead Secret by Roy Lewis

Reviewed on: January 1, 2002

Carroll & Graf, New York
2001 (hc)

Last month I wrote of an archaeological mystery series –the Gideon Oliver series by Aaron Elkins –that has been a favorite of mine for well over a decade.  This month I would like to introduce readers to a series that I just discovered this past fall.  I had been introduced to an on-line e-book entitled Archaeology in Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography, by Anita Cohen-Williams (June 2001) that included a number of titles in the “Arnold Landon Mystery Series, by author Roy Lewis.  I found only one of them presently available from a U.S. publishing house, ordered it from and waited for this new arrival.

I must say that I was charmed by Dead Secret.  It’s a clever, erudite mystery set in the Northumberland area of England.  Arnold Landon (can there be a more British name for a hero?) is an archaeologist who works for the Department of Museums and Antiquities and in Dead Secret is thrust into the midst of a mystery involving the conflicting interests of archaeologists who wish to study the prehistoric and perfectly preserved bog body known as the “Wolf Man,” the landowner who wishes nothing more than his privacy, unscrupulous land developers and a cadre of self-styled eco-terrorists.  The conflict escalates until murder is committed and committed again!

The portrayal of archaeological fieldwork is very accurate, the description of internecine politics among and between government archaeologists is often hilarious, the characters including the alleged bad guys) are engaging, and mystery plot itself is convoluted enough to keep the reader interested.

Apparently Roy Lewis has been writing Arnold Landon mysteries for a long time, but they the relatively few published in the United States, other than Dead Secret, are out of print and many have been published only in the UK.  I hope Dead Secret sells well enough that Carroll & Graf will continue to publish new editions as they are written, and perhaps even re-print some past editions.  This is one reviewer who would certainly enjoy reading the likes of The Cross Bearer and Bloodeagle – two Arnold Langdon mysteries from the mid 1990s!