Why is the ghost of a 2nd-century Roman sentinel guarding an archaeological site? And why is he following Verity Grey?
First published in 1997, Kearsley’s book still pleases with its deft blending of romance and the Gothic. Archaeologist Verity Grey has made her professional mark and even landed a secure position at the British Museum. But when her charming ex-boyfriend Adrian calls, Verity is easily lured to Scotland with promises of archaeological adventure. From the moment she boards the train, Verity’s world becomes mysteriously ominous. The Gothic atmosphere begins to swirl with the moors, a dark house lit by a single candle, and shadowy horses thundering through the night, wakening our heroine. Once Verily arrives at Peter Quinnell’s home, she meets the rest of the crew. In his 70s, Quinnell is still handsome and brilliant yet discredited by his fellow archaeologists, who lament his mad search for the 2nd-century marching camp known as Legio IX Hispana. Charismatic as ever, Adrian has his eye on every pretty woman, including Peter’s granddaughter Fabia, the photographer who seems to know very little about archaeology. Verity’s own eye is drawn to the darkly handsome, mysterious David Fortune, an archaeologist from the local university. As the team hunts for the remains of the Roman camp, however, someone seems to be intent upon sabotaging the hunt. Indeed, the dig itself seems haunted by a Roman sentinel who speaks only to a young, possibly psychic boy named Robbie. The tension mounts as Verity and David’s romance intensifies and the sentinel demands more from Robbie, warning against dangers and urging caution. But what is the source of the danger?
Despite a rather abrupt resolution to the central mystery, Kearsley’s tale is lush with romantic and ghostly threads.