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Reading: Lyn Hamilton

17193Lyn Hamilton will be reading from her work at Women of Mystery, to be held at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. Her series of Archaeological mysteries has taken us to many exotic locations–in the most recent three we will travel to Budapest, Easter Island and Scotland.

In the Magyar Venus, Lara McClintoch travels to Budapest to determine the authenticity of a small carving known as the Magyar Venus–the head and torso of a woman, carved from mammoth ivory, possibly from the Upper Paleolithic period. The carving has come into the possession of a museum curator in Toronto, Karoly Molnar, who was Lara’s boyfriend in her university years. Lara has recently ended a relationship of several years and finds herself again attracted to this lover from her past.

This is a murder mystery so we know there are going to be problems. Along with the old boyfriend, Lara becomes involved with a group of women who were her roommates while attending university. It soon becomes obvious that some of these women are to be trusted and some are not–and Lara has to decide, in fact, if she can trust Karoly or if he is deceiving her–taking advantage of her nostalgia and loneliness.

Wrong side

The solutions to these questions are to be found in Budapest, a beautiful city divided by the Danube, once a glorious place in the 1800s, now grimy, and very Eastern Europe. Budapest, as Lara discovers, had the misfortune to be in a country always on the wrong side of the wars that have besieged Europe. The end of the Communism has left the citizens trying to find their place in a new economy and to come to terms with the events of the not so distant past.

Many Hungarians left in 1956 and made Toronto home, while many were unable to leave and have lived through the years of communist repression. It is among these people that Lara finds the answers to her questions about the provenance of the Magyar Venus.

Once Lara has recovered from her Budapest adventure–and a not so broken heart–she is off to Easter Island. This is to be a holiday with her friend Moira, not a business trip. The two women just want some time to be friends, and to put the priorities of their lives in perspective at what we now call middle age (50-something, on the optimistic assumption that we might live to be 100).

The title, Moai Murders, tells us that this will not be an uneventful holiday. Lara and Moira find themselves sharing a hotel with a group of archaeologists who have come together to present papers about the history of Easter Island. Most seem to be as uneducated in this history as are Lara and Moira–there is one death and then another –not murder surely.

Soon both women become involved in events that they cannot understand, but they must discover who is responsible in order to save the lives of the new friends they have come to care for. I found this one of the most suspenseful of Lyn Hamilton’s novels; she has developed over her career as a writer into a very good storyteller, indeed.

The Orkney Scroll is Lyn’s most recent book, and again we find Lara in the middle of a murder investigation. Lara is consulted by a customer who is considering the purchase of a very expensive desk made by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, or perhaps not.

The authenticity of the desk is questioned when the antique dealer who sold it is murdered and Lara’s reputation is also in question. Lara sets off to Orkney, where the desk apparently was found, and finds herself trying to determine who made the desk and how it came to be sold in Toronto.

Orkney is a lovely place but there are some decidedly un-lovely people there who would like to see the end of Lara. She does, of course, survive. We expect to see her in yet another book or many, but it is a close thing, as always, before she is safely home in Toronto.

Lyn is going to share her knowledge with a small group of aspiring authors during a workshop on June 17. Contact the Charles W. Stockey Centre 746-4466 for more information.

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