Molly Greene's latest story, A Thousand Tombs, is the fourth mystery involving sassy private investigator Gen Delacourt, and this time Gen is up to her eyebrows in intrigue when she and her boyfriend, San Francisco cop Mack Hackett, quite literally stumble upon a teenage boy on the run for his life. Young Luca barrels into their world with a mysterious ancient coin – a priceless Italian artifact of dubious provenance – and a gang of ruthless goons on his trail. Luca is evasive about his situation, but Gen and Mack are determined to help in any way they can; which, for Gen, means getting down to business and unraveling the mystery of the coin. As she hunts for the truth, Gen will be left to question everyone around her, from the sketchy Carabinieri officers determined to cut her off to the kindly old man who reminds her of her dear grand-père, and even secretive Luca, whose plight has won Mack’s pity and left Gen in a limbo of suspicion. Greene is on an upward trajectory as a writer, and A Thousand Tombs gives no indication that she’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Followers of the series can expect all the spunky adventure Greene has filled her other stories with, as well as the return of familiar characters and a wonderfully intricate new mystery. While the previous book in the series, Paint Me Gone, took Gen into the mysteries of the art world, the story in A Thousand Tombs utilizes Greene’s aptitude for research to explore the fascinating history of the tomboroli, tomb robbers who excavate priceless archaeological finds across Italy. I was entrenched in this aspect of the novel, curious to find out more, while also as closely attached as ever to the personal goings-on of the characters, whether the relationship between Gen and Mack or the witty banter between Gen and her good friend, the always colorful Oliver Weston. As a storyteller, Greene does an excellent job of finding the balance between the many different facets of her novels, consistently maintaining the details of her story while also deepening the reader’s understanding of her characters and their world.
Gen is a feisty and lovable character, with a keen mind and a quick wit that spread right into the novel’s narrative. Readers familiar with Gen get to witness a slightly different, more conflicted side of her in A Thousand Tombs when her fragile relationship with Mack takes on new weight as their personal and professional lives begin to collide. Into the mix comes Gen’s touchy romantic history, and as she’s left to examine the frayed edges of her ability to trust, more layers begin to unravel before the reader. Greene excels at creating characters that readers will love to spend time with, but her knack for crafting suspenseful intrigue is at full swing here as well. On the whole, A Thousand Tombs is a quick-witted, well-paced mystery with a charming romance and a unique dose of history; a delightful escape into a memorable world, and a great addition to a beloved series.