Scotland is Susan's passion and obsession -- and the opportunity to join a Highland dig is a dream come true for the young archaeology student. But then a sinister stranger slips Susan a cryptic message in ancient verse -- and is later found viciously slain. A mysterious peril has unexpectedly emerged from the mists to haunt Susan, sending her running for her life in the company of handsome, unconventional laird Jamie Erskine. For she has an unseen enemy hiding in the shadows -- someone who is going to great lengths to frame her for murder ... and to bury Susan, if necessary, in this land she loves.
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September 01, 2002
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Excerpt from Legend in Green Velvet by Elizabeth Peters
The gravestones were black.
Jetty crosses, ebon urns and tablets, sable angels folding sable wings over somber stones ' . A Devil's graveyard; a cemetery of Satanists.
In actual fact Susan did not find the sight at all sinister. In the mellow summer sunshine, nestled cozily among emerald grass, the black stones had a certain bizarre charm. As Susan looked down on the cemetery she felt not a single premonitory shiver. Which only goes to prove that premonitions, like history, are more or less bunk.
She had an excellent view from one of the bridges that arch superbly over the gorge separating the lower section of Edinburgh from the high ridge of the old city. Edinburgh is three different cities: the drab, sprawling suburbs of the recent past; the elegant, formal squares of the eighteenth-century town; and, dominating the skyline, the tangled closes and wynds of the ancient capital. From the heights of Castle Rock, more than four hundred feet above sea level, the old streets slant down toward the foot of Arthur's Seat; and the mile-long slopes are crowded with buildings whose turreted, gabled, and towered roofs form a skyline unsurpassed in any city of the world.
Susan had fallen in love with it that morning, when she came out of the station after the all-night train ride from London. The weather had been fine; the stone battlements of Edinburgh Castle were outlined against a translucent sky, and the tall old houses reached up out of lavender shadows like elderly aristocrats stretching toward the warmth of the sun. Susan was staring bemusedly out the taxi window when the driver's sour voice shattered her reverie.
"Aye, aye, gawk awa'," he remarked disagreeably. "Rich, spoiled Americans, wasting guid siller on pleasure and paying nae heed to the struggles of an oppressed people ' ."
"I've come here to work," Susan said, with perfect good humor; it would take more than a grumpy taxi driver to destroy her mood on such a morning, and the man's accent delighted her. "I'm an archaeology student, and I expect to spend the summer on my hands and knees, digging. And living in a leaky tent. At least I assume it will leak. I'm not getting paid, either. I saved the plane fare by baby-sitting and doing housework last summer. Who's oppressing you "
It was tantamount to removing a plug. The tirade continued all the way down Princes Street. When they turned into the neatly squared-off streets in the "new" city, Susan interrupted. She suspected that the lecture would have continued indefinitely if she had not.
"You're a Scottish Nationalist," she said, pleased. "How fascinating!"