Signatures in Stone by Linda Lappin

Signatures in StoneReviewed by Teri Davis

Are there clues or signatures surrounding each of us that daily lead us to the answers? Do we just need to be more attentive to read these signatures throughout nature and our lives?

What do you do with a gifted author who has a drug addiction?

Daphne wrote a best selling novel, Signatures, which was a mystery based on the clues, or signatures, surrounding the main character. Since then, she usually is high and incapable of writing any logical. With her addiction, much of the time she is useless. Her publisher has the idea to take her to an isolated place in order to cut her off from her supplier hoping that this should give her the opportunity to again create another profitable masterpiece.

With this story set in time in 1928, what better place could be found than an isolated Italian villa. The opopportunity arose to share the rent of this ancient villa with a resident professor researching the Etruscan ruins in the garden. These ruins could even be the inspiration for Daphne’s novel.

Being that Daphne is a widow in her fifties, her addiction has caused her financial situation to be dwindled down to nothing. Her publisher/manager, Nigel, controls her money now as he drives rides in their Packard drives the one hundred miles north of Rome to the area called Tuscia along with Clive, an American artist. Daphne brings the few clothes and jewelry along with her.

As they arrive at the estate, there is an enormous locked garden. The visiting professor who is not around has requested this area not to be opened until his return so that he could safely guide them and protect them from the resident vipers, both snakes and human.

The caretaker seems to be a bully and his daughter, Amelia, is expected to clean and cook which she obviously resents. Perhaps all of these are signatures, signs that are telling us something.

Daphne quickly begins to discover the secrets of the house with its hidden staircases and rooms using them in her own sexual liaisons. With the arrival of Danilo, the mysterious and dark stranger, loyalties and secrets develop in the house and the garden known as “the Monster Park”. Besides the challenge of writing, there is also the daily distraction of not being sober or being murdered. Why?

Linda Lappin has excelled in weaving this intricate tapestry of SIGNATURES IN STONE. Her command of the language as a poet excels with her descriptive choice of words to mesmerize the reader in this phenomenal novel. By residing in both Italy and the U.S., she expertly places the reader in Italy through utilizing the senses. Previously she has written THE ETRUSCAN, and KATHERINE”S WISH which are both highly regarded novels that she has written. Currently she is working on her next Daphne novel entitled MELUSINE.

SIGNATURES IN STONE has the texture of a Gothic novel with the layers of the setting being woven throughout the plot. The haunting reality of not knowing whether Daphne is lucid in her thoughts or hallucinating adds an intensity to this fast-paced, eloquently elegant novel.

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