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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Moonlight on Diamonds by Lydia Storm

Moonlight on Diamonds by Lydia Storm
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Action/Adventure Contemporary Suspense/Mystery
Heat: Spicy
Length: Full (266 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Edelweiss

As the Diamond Ball approaches, the world’s greatest jewel thieves have assembled in Washington DC for one purpose: to steal the cursed Hope diamond which will hang around Veronica Rossmore’s lovely neck. Former FBI agent, John Monroe, is hired to play bodyguard to Veronica. When she starts receiving threatening notes from the Ghost, the most infamous jewel thief in operation, John is forced to look into the society girl’s mysterious past. As John uncovers the layers of her secret life, he finds himself falling in love with the seductive and enigmatic Veronica. On the eve of the ball, John is on a mission to protect Veronica and the Hope from the Ghost, but can he discover the notorious thief’s identity in time?
John is a rehabilitated alcoholic ex-FBI agent. Veronica is the daughter of a millionaire archeologist. After a rash of jewel heists, Veronica’s father hires John to protect the family’s fabulous jewel collection on a trip to Washington where Veronica will attend a ball and fashion show in which the Hope Diamond itself will be worn as part of the gala. The event attracts jewel thieves from all over the world. The scene is set for action, suspense, and intrigue.

This book has a bit of a split personality, as though unsure what it wants or how seriously to take itself. We start out being introduced to a marvelous collection of personalities, and the character sketches are good enough that we eagerly anticipate the upcoming drama. John’s phoenix-like recovery from the misery of alcoholism, tastefully treated early on, gives the impression of serious drama to come. But when the action starts, we learn that this is not serious fiction. These scenes as so technically fantastic that they border on comedy. The Spiderman acrobatics you’ve see in all their digital splendor are a good warm-up to the exploits of this book’s cat burglar. The plot details quickly follow suit, ignoring details like the security that would be imposed for an event featuring both the Hope Diamond and the nation’s First Lady. No, at this point, we know we are reading escapist literature and that we should anticipate entertainment rather than poignant drama.

Still, the author insists on more surprises. The story features discrete instances of social/political commentary, inserted in odd places. Tasteless and banal, they are easily the book’s worst feature. But they are minor and easy to ignore.

One interesting and unusual sub-theme of the book is the deep psychological lure of fabulous jewels and the premise that it affects certain people in profound ways. A bit like gold fever, but much more glamorous, sexy even. This theme becomes part of the story’s suspense, and it has a surprising denouement in an exotic pagan theology.

Speaking of suspense, this book has it in tantalizing layers. Most readers will easily decipher the first layer, but after that the mystery gets harder to solve, being entwined in the story’s ultimate New Age theme. The love story is intriguing, but so improbable that it takes on a special suspense all its own, especially once we guess the probable identity of our heroine.

In summary, Moonlight on Diamonds is a book unsure of its own identity, but best taken as a fun read. Unusually well proofed, featuring smooth prose, this is fluffy, escapist fiction of an unusual bent, a pleasure to read, with layers of mystery that will keep you guessing to the end.