RogerBW's Blog

The Fourth Aspect, Amelia Ellis 03 July 2023

2009 thriller, third of this ongoing series; translated from the original German by Rachel Ward. A woman disappears soon after her eighteenth birthday; her boyfriend employs Nea to find her.

Another book, another relationship ended as the book starts. Hey ho. Once more Nea meets someone new during the course of the book, and there's some consideration of the virtues of a relationship with a known short deadline (she'll be going home soon and lives a long way away) when you don't have time to annoy each other because the "gosh, sex is great" phase hasn't worn off yet.

As in the previous books, Nea's personal life and friendships are a significant part of the narrative; at times they feel more important than the actual case – especially when, having got involved with a group of witches in London, Nea is apparently happy to forget about the investigation for a few days until one of them can cast her "get an answer to any question" spell. (As in the Bast books by Rosemary Edghill, which I really should reread, there's meant to be legitimate doubt about whether the magic done here is "really" magic or a cover for actual research, poisoning, etc., though I think Ellis doesn't do as good a job of coming up with possible mundane explanations for the weird things that happen.)

On one hand we get a tarot reading with only three major arcana showing up, which is always refreshing considering the number of writers who just want to use all the cool names. On the other, the reading's given in multiple-page detail even though there's no particular significance to it.

I did find this more enjoyable than the second book – but this time what's missing from the set of elements that appealed to me in book one is the complicated historical puzzle and unravelling of ancient clues.

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Previous in series: Lilies on Sand | Series: Nea Fox

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