Lovejoy’s back! Lock up your daughters and wives and mistresses and mothers!
Two things turn Lovejoy giddy: Women of any age and physical conformation and genuine, authentic, bona fide, true antiques, which he as a “divvy” can unerringly distinguish from fakes, imitations, and dross. Naturally, his affection for both gets him into hot water again, this time landing him aboard the Melissa, a Russia-bound cruise ship peopled with antique lovers and experts and a sizeable contingent determined to harness the divvy’s talent to relieve Leningrad’s Hermitage Museum of scads of Old Masters. Before they arrive, one body drops, then another, and Lovejoy’s sole ally, Margaret Dainty, jumps ship, leaving him vulnerable to the wiles of many in between discourses on antique chocolate pots, imari porcelains, Edwardian amethysts, amber flummery, and Russian ikons. Amsterdam sails by, then Oslo, before finally it’s time to tour Leningrad’s Winter Palace, discover the real target of the ship’s scammers, and head home to wallow in his customary complicated love life.
As in many of the raffish hero’s romps (A Rag, a Bone and a Hank of Hair, 2000, etc.), the plot is goofy from the get-go, but the talk and erudition are first-rate, and most women would stand in line for the chance to chat up Lovejoy.