The Rose of Rhodes
Book Four of The Inspector Reynard Series
Detective Lucien Reynard is sent by UNESCO’s Paris office to investigate an archaeological theft on the Greek Island of Rhodes. Lucien’s father Gervais, his wife Chante, and their daughter Melodia settle in to a B&B in the Old City. They hire a private tour guide to take the family sightseeing, while Lucien sets to work. He questions the entire team of archaeologists and guards, but no one seems to know anything. The family is threatened, and a man who could have been a lead to the theft is murdered, which only increases the number of suspicious characters. Of all the people they have met and questioned, who can they trust? Together with Rhodes’ Inspector of police, Chante and Gervais’ excellent research skills and Lucien’s impeccable sleuthing, they draw nearer to solving the crime.
By late July of 2022, the pandemic seemed to have waned, and Lucien was aching to get back to work. That’s when he got a call from Monsieur Teniet, from UNESCO’s Paris office, asking if he was ready and willing to take on a new assignment. Teniet had previously directed him to work on Cyprus, and his accomplishment brought him recognition within the department of that venerable organization. Now there was a problem on Rhodes. An archaeologist working on a large dig site had unearthed many revealing artifacts, only to have some of them stolen. Lucien’s assignment was to investigate the theft; find out why those items were stolen, who stole them, and if at all possible, have them returned. So, the Reynard family decided to accept the opportunity and take the time to finally get away together, this time taking Melodia with them, for her first grand adventure.
“A Grecian mystery with equal parts antiquities and moussaka!”
Review by Lilah Shahkhor
The Rose of Rhodes is Book Four in The Inspector Reynard Series by Lita-Luise Chappell. Like the previous three in the series, while it does progress from the book before it, this works just as well as a stand-alone. Even though it had been a couple of years since I’d read the earlier novels, The Rose of Rhodes fully portrayed the characters who populate the series so that I wasn’t lost trying to figure out or remember who’s who. With that said, having read all the series so far, it was a pleasure to get reacquainted with Lucien Reynard and his family again. Here we find him in this latest installment, along with his wife Chante, his father Professor Gervais, and their young daughter Melodia, now 6 years old, in a post-pandemic world just starting to recover from the shutdowns brought about by Covid-19. Happy and eager to return to work, they’ve just accepted their first new assignment from UNESCO, investigating the theft of antiquities from an archaeological dig on the Greek island of Rhodes.
What follows is both an entertaining and twisty detective story as well as a vivid immersion in Greek culture and history as it takes place in and around the Old City of Rhodes. Lita’s books are always dense with highly researched facts and history, a lot of which comes from her own travels and studies in the parts of the world being described, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the plot as it unfolds. One level of the storyline introduces us to the inner workings of an archaeological dig at the Rhodes acropolis, from where several unlikely artifacts, pieces of broken jewelry, had been stolen shortly after they were unearthed. Why would anyone steal these specific items, what was their value, who would have committed and funded such an intricate crime, and what, or who, was the rose of Rhodes? By working in tandem with the local police department as well as following their own leads, interviewing members of the archaeological team, and researching for clues online as well as at the island’s various ancient sites and museums, these were just some of the questions that Inspector Reynard and his team set out to answer.
Along with working to solve the crime, the family also explores and learns about the island with their tour guide, Chloe, a local history teacher who shares her expertise of the area with them via walking tours of the city and driving tours to other parts of the island. She takes them to the Turkish baths built in 1558 known as Great Hammam, the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem built by the Knights Hospitaller, the Temples of Athena and Aphrodite at Symi Square, the eleven gates along the Byzantine walls, the Valley of the Butterflies, the ruins of the ancient city of Kamiros, medieval castles, the Lindos acropolis, and many other attractions known to tourists as well as to lesser known yet equally fascinating places.
Things take a turn for the dangerous when the investigation starts to get too close to the truth, with a lead suspect getting murdered just before they could be interviewed, and with young Melodia being approached by a stranger who places a threatening note in her pocket for her parents to find. The closer they get to uncovering the culprit, the less the Reynard’s know who they can trust.
With a flair for storytelling that evokes the culture of wherever her stories take place, Lita-Luise Chappell brings the people and experiences of Rhodes to life, writing prose that awakens the senses to the sights, smells and tastes of the island. Here on Rhodes, we get its culinary delights described in delicious detail when the Reynard’s visit local restaurants to try traditional moussaka, marinated octopus, flaky spinach pies, and baked pasta with soutzoukakia sausages made from spiced pork, or when they get to enjoy Revani cake, made with semolina flour soaked in lemon honey and sprinkled with coconut; a recipe handed down to their B&B’s host by her grandmother. Having read this book while I was in my own lockdown phase of the pandemic, I enjoyed the indulgence of feeling like I was travelling to a faraway place when I wasn’t able to go anywhere. While all I could do was dream of exploring exotic lands, this book was just the ticket I needed to take me there.
Whether returning for the latest escapades of Inspector Reynard and his clan or coming to this book as an introduction to the series, there’s something here for old and new fans alike. Kaliméra… your adventure awaits!