Interesting characters, an agreeable setting—contemporary London—and accomplished writing, all are folded together into an overstuffed first novel about a group of men and women who find love and purpose as they save an old garden and capture a greedy lawyer who’s taken to crime.
When Edward Lupset, an impoverished young lawyer and old Etonian who yearns for the finer things of life, learns that a distinguished Greek family is unaware of the treasures put into a vault during the London blitz by the family’s British lawyer Mr. Eugenides, he decides to acquire them for himself. With the help of two young Greek professionals who share similar ambitions, he befriends the aging Mr. Eugenides, who lives alone in an old house in an ancient part of London, and begins to doctor his medications with pills that will induce confusion. But Edward, a louche and graceless snob, hasn’t reckoned with Dr. Sebastian Raphael, a gay Byzantine scholar, whom Eugenides has permitted to copy a long lost sixth-century homoerotic poem. Or with Jeanene Malone, an Australian classics graduate student who overhears the Greeks plotting; or Dil Dhesi, an astute colleague of Edward’s; or Hattie Luke, who’s trying to save a garden on the site of an old bombed-out church whose land belongs to a Greek monastery on Mount Athos. As they get wind of Edward’s machinations, Mr. Eugenides dies, Prince Charles invites the abbot of the monastery to visit, and Jeanene, Dil, and Sebastian all find skullduggery and love en route to a leisurely, ungripping final curtain.
An energetic debut that tries to be too many things as it celebrates the varieties of love, solves a crime, and comments on the need for historic preservation in cool Britannia.