The Moon-spinners, by Mary Stewart

>> Thursday, October 21, 2004

A couple of months ago I found a reprint of The Moon-spinners, by Mary Stewart, which I'd been trying to get for some time. The older editions were pretty hard to find, so I'm very glad someone decided to reissue it!

Young, beautiful, and adventurous Nicola Ferris loves her life as a secretary at the British Embassy on the lush island of Crete. Then on her day off, she links up with two hiking companions who have inadvertently stumbledupon a scene of blood vengeance.

And suddenly the life Nicola adores is in danger of coming to an abrupt, brutal, and terrifying end . . .
The Moon-spinners is that kind of book which was so popular some years ago, the British young woman visiting an exotic locale who gets embroiled in some adventure. When they are well done, I adore these books, and this was was very good indeed. A B+.

These books really live or die on their heroines. A boring or dumb protagonist can easily ruin the whole thing. Fortunately, I really liked Nicola, a smart, resourceful and fun woman. I loved how she was so confident and sensible. She never acts stupidly and she thinks things true. Of course, sometimes her actions have bad consequences, but it's simply that she's done the best she can with the information she had, and she didn't have all the info.

Her involvement in the whole problem made perfect sense. That's something that can get a bit iffy, actually. I've read a lot of books in which the heroines' determination to be part of the investigation of a certain crime they're only peripherally involved in was pretty unbelievable. Not so in this case. Nicola even half-heartedly considers forgetting about the whole thing and enjoying her holiday, but she's too decent to do it in good conscience.

The actual suspense subplot was interesting and engaging, with very well written "action" scenes and well-drawn secondary characters.

Crete had as much a presence in the book as a main character. Steward is wonderful at making her settings come alive, and this one's one of my favourites so far. Her descriptions are lovingly detailed, and made me feel as if I was there.

The only negative I can find in the book was the romantic thread, which was underwritten. Nicola and her love interest just don't spend enough time together, I'm afraid.

This is one to read for the heroine and the setting, not the romance, but that's fine, too!


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