A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. Juliana Gray. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Book. October 2016. 400 pp. ISBN#: 9780425277072.
Emmeline Truelove has been the secretary/personal assistant to the Duke of Olympia. Upon his untimely death, Truelove is assigned to travel with Lord Silverton to find the missing son, Max Haywood, the new heir to the former Duke’s title, lands and monies. Emmeline is staggered that she would be asked to complete such a task since her previous duties didn’t encompass sleuthing in the slightest way. But she’s intelligent enough to do it. Truelove as a character is enigmatic. One minute she’s fully invested in her “proper” behavior and thinking and at other times she displays a wit and intuitive intelligence to provide meaningful clues and spunkiness of character.
Lord Silverton, on the other hand, is well-known as a promiscuous rake, vacillating between being a caring, sensitive man and a teaser who seems to be looking for more than Truelove is willing to even hint at giving. Indeed, it turns out that Lord Silverton is a genuine sleuth and that’s a very good thing as he and Truelove will experience danger many times during the course of their travel to Knossos in Cyprus and beyond.
Interwoven in the story lies a part of the myth of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth with a romantic spin only gradually revealed, scenes which enhance the very, very slowly evolving romance between Truelove and Silverton.
Add to the story that Queen Victoria and Emmeline’s father, who are both deceased, keep appearing to Emmeline, the former warning her she should never have accepted this job and the latter giving her sharp looks that could mean a million different things. Emmeline believes the appearances of both characters are delusions that she should ignore, or should she really pretend they are not real?
The archeological artifacts that have been discovered by Max and other peers seem to have a mystery about them as well. Are they real or fake? Why does one in particular seem to depict a character holding what any modern person would call a camera? What are the secrets about why Max shipped his discoveries back home through someone being paid a great deal? Are these shipments legal? Honestly acquired for “The Institute” back home?
A Most Extraordinary Pursuit is an interesting novel replete with many twists and turns, sometimes presented with an annoying complexity and confusion and at other times with a natural style of mystery that enhances the reader’s interest and engagement. The reader must decide whether the characters are truly credible. Mythology is said to be a rational explanation for behavior and events that are totally inexplicable. The same could be said for the plot of this challenging novel. Interestingly crafted historical fiction, Juliana Gray!