Recovering from a shocking act of violence, Coraline Chase, classicist and mythographer, decides that taking part in The Papyrus Project, which aims to restore the charred scrolls of Pompeii, might offer her a much needed escape. On site though, Coraline begins to suspect that the Modern Pythagoreans, a revival of an ancient cult, are also interested in the Papyrus Project. The cult believe that a lost manuscript of the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras may have survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Soon Coraline finds herself following a trail that leads her through Southern Italy, Sicily and to the island of Samos, Pythagoras's birthplace. Against the backdrop of the Bay of Naples, Cory begins to feel she is being pulled into an underworld of conspiracy to reignite an ancient cult that once rivalled Christianity in the Roman World.
Religious cults? I am consumed with curiosity as to how the theories of Pythagoras could be incorporated into a cult. I mean, how would the services go?
MINISTER: "The square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides".
CONGREGATION: This is terribly clever.
MINISTER: Not that we have much use for this in daily life, mind you.
CONGREGATION: But it is good to know.
I'm being facetious, of course - a quick look at Pythagoras' Wikipedia entry is actually quite interesting, speaking as someone whose knowledge of the man begins and ends with the Disney short DONALD DUCK IN MATH-MAGIC LAND.
So, anyway, let's hope THE NIGHT VILLA's more satisfying than THE SONNET LOVER. And - talking of THE SONNET LOVER - remember that Goodman did originally intend to call her heroine "Rose Blum" but, upon being told to lose the pun, called her "Rose Asher" instead? It just occurred to me that maybe "Rose Asher" was a pun, too... on this. Hmmm.