4 out of 4 stars
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Deadline Rome: The Vatican Kylix is Sari Gilbert’s debut novel. Set in Italy in the 1980s, this crime and mystery story follows the life of a novice Washington Post foreign correspondent, Clare Philips. In one of their trips to the Etruscan country, Clare and her priest friend, Daniel, discover something perturbing in a cave—a severed human ear together with some leftover food. The discarded food still had a receipt on it showing where it was bought from, and as curious as a journalist could be, Clare decided to visit the grocery store to determine if she could discover something exclusive and newsworthy. The number of kidnappings for ransom had skyrocketed in Italy at the time, and Clare felt that the severed human ear could be connected to one of those. What will she find out?
Meanwhile, the Vatican Etruscan Museum has purchased a pricey ancient wine cup, kylix, and it has scheduled to, during its launch, put it on an exhibition for the public to see. Kylix is believed to be a companion piece to the Metropolitan Museum’s Euphronios Krater. However, even with the great anticipation from the general public, many have started questioning where the Vatican may have obtained the large sums of money to facilitate the purchase of that ultra-expensive artifact. Clare, being who she is, ever ambitious, is determined to also find out the details about the provenance of the kylix and the source of money that was used to purchase it. Will she also succeed in this second mission? In both cases, one thing was for sure. Many hurdles lay ahead, danger lurked in every corner, and everything was far from predictable.
I enjoyed reading The Vatican Kylix and liked how it was executed. This novel is interesting as well as informative. It was given the third-person narrative approach and told from multiple perspectives. The author also, on several occasions, left out some details for later, and this created suspense that kept me reading to uncover them. The characters’ background information was also adequately given, and this was mainly achieved through dialogues and flashbacks. The dialogues in the story also played a pivotal role in explaining some concepts, for instance, the meaning of kylix. The author also aptly captured various emotions, and as there were happy moments, so were poignant ones, among others. The author's experience as a journalist was also evident in this work, and it was manifested through Clare. Apart from that, the author also incorporated some turns and twists which were laden with pleasant surprises. The wrap-up was also satisfactorily done, answering all the questions that popped up as I was reading. The epilogue, though, hinted there is more to come, probably a sequel.
Furthermore, I liked how the author developed and portrayed the characters. In particular, I liked the protagonist, Clare. She is ambitious and proactive, and even with the many hurdles she encountered on her way to pursuing her goals, she allowed nothing to shake or deter her. She always seemed to know how to connect the subtle pieces of the puzzle to identify her next leads. She was more of a sleuth than a journalist, and those traits, together with her risk-taking personality and resilience, made me like her even more.
My favorite aspect of this book was the Italian details the author incorporated in it. Italian foods, fashion, key landmarks, tourist attraction sites were all exquisitely integrated into this work. Some Italian words and phrases were also thrown in the novel, and even though I have never visited Italy, I gained a perspective on how it is (or was) to live in the country. Readers who, like me, like to discover new places—even through books—will also love this aspect.
All in all, I found absolutely nothing to dislike about this novel. I believe it was professionally edited since errors were hard to come by, and I found only a few minor ones. I am, therefore, glad to award Deadline Rome: The Vatican Kylix by Sari Gilbert 4 out of 4 stars. I had no reason, whatsoever, to give it a rating lower than this.
To fans of crime, mystery, and investigative novels, I highly recommend this. Readers fascinated by Italy and the Vatican culture will also appreciate this work. On the other hand, except for those not into the genre, I can't find anyone who may consider skipping it. I am looking forward to reading more of the author's books in the future.
Deadline Rome: The Vatican Kylix
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