Carol Goodman’s mysteries share two common elements: her protagonists are accomplished, American, female academics, usually in literature, who are drawn into complex projects in which a hidden conspiracy exposes them to great danger. Goodman is adept at layering her modern day thrillers over firm historical/mythological underpinnigs. In The Night Villa, Classics Professor Sophie Chase is lured to Italy for a chance to study newly discovered, ancient scrolls pertaining to the subject of her dissertation, Roman slave girl Petronia Iusta, whom Sophie sees as a woman ahead of her time. The others on her team have their own particular agendas, and not all of them are benign. Readers intrigued by mysterious cults and rites, arcane signs and symbols, labyrinths and grottos, and esoteric manuscripts, not to mention Herculaneum, will thoroughly enjoy The Night Villa, which has moments of genuine suspense despite a somewhat improbable denouement. Goodman’s a first rate writer.