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The Love Talker by Elizabeth Peters
Laurie is asked to stay at Idlewood, the old family home and present residence of two aunts and an uncle, to find out if something is wrong with her youngest aunt, Lizzie, who claims there are fairies in the woods. Laurie's older halfbrother, Doug, will be there as well. A handsome handyman, Jeff, has been looking after the elderly people for the last few years.
Aunt Lizzie has photographs of the fairies that are so well done that Laurie starts wondering if perhaps they could be real. Both aunt Lizzie and Laurie have always loved fairy tales and Idlewood's enchanting location in the woods suggests there could be more truth in the stories than most people believe.
If not, someone may plan to do harm to aunt Lizzie and it's up to Laurie and Doug to find out.

The story is told in third person but all the time it's Laurie we're following. She's only 23, but knows what's best for everyone. The relationship with her halfbrother seems to be rather unhealthy, so the reader expects it's Jeff who's the love interest. Jeff is darkly handsome; Doug compares him with Heathcliffe, but Laurie, fanciful, sees in him the "Love Talker", a legendary mysterious young man "who made love to maidens in lonely valleys before fading away and leaving them to pine to death".

Elizabeth Peters, aka Barbara Michaels, excels in feminist heroines who apparently have trouble speaking seriously because they must banter, joke and wisecrack all the time. Very tiresome. So I became heartily sick of Laurie. I also disliked the way the author let Laurie see something or smell something that gave her a clue to the whodunnit, but the reader won't be told. As the reader doesn't see or smell what Laurie does, we cannot think for ourselves and must wait patiently till Laurie decides to divulge her reasoning. I was thrilled whenever Laurie found out she was wrong about something; I wish it would have happened more often.

Whenever authors try to give the impression they are knowledgeable about everything, which they superimpose on their protagonists, I'm doubly critical to see if they don't make mistakes anywhere. And Elizabeth Peters isn't exempt: At night a car, parked in the garage, suddenly starts moving and almost runs Laurie over. ""Must have forgotten to set the brake," Ned said calmly." It was winter and freezing, so setting the parking brake is not a good idea. Garages shouldn't be built on an incline, either.
Next I wondered about a legal issue: If a person is adopted, surely he/she no longer has any right to the family fortune of his birth mother.

I was disappointed in Elizabeth Peters. I have bought several of her books and was hoping to enjoy reading the Vicky Bliss series and the Amelia Peabody series. I did read and liked the Jacqueline Kirby books a long time ago, which was before I turned into such a stickler for logic and reality. The things that bothered me the most were the above-mentioned persistant flippant conversation style and the arrogance of the protagonist.

My verdict: a 5 out of 10.

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