Grave Importance (2019) is the third DR GRETA HELSING book by Vivian Shaw, following Strange Practice and Dreadful Company. For the best experience, you should read those books first, though it’s not strictly necessary. Each book’s main plot stands alone, but the characters’ relationships (including a romance) develop over the course of the three novels.
After the events of Dreadful Company, Greta is back in England, helping vampyre Varney take care of the new monsters they’ve brought back from Paris. When a colleague who runs a clinic for mummies in the south of France asks Greta to come take care of things for a bit, she immediately accepts because she’s eager to practice medicine in a state-of-the-art facility and she’s ready to get out of the lousy weather in London.
When she arrives, the clinic is just as wonderful as she’d hoped, and she’s pleased to learn some new restorative techniques for mummies from the clinic’s staff. But there is something weird going on. Some of the mummies are experiencing dizzy spells. As Greta tries to figure out what’s causing these symptoms, she appeals to her friends for help. The mystery eventually leads them to a vain rich woman who donated some ancient artifacts to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Also involved are some angels from another dimension. Oh, and Dr. Faust, who is somewhat of a hero to Greta.
Readers who’ve enjoyed this series so far will be charmed by Grave Importance. The mummy plot is entertaining, sometimes clever, and amusing. There are major developments in Greta’s personal life, too. Though I like the premise of these novels (a doctor to supernatural creatures is a great idea), and they’re very well written, I just didn’t think the plots were that entertaining, though I can see why other readers would feel differently.
Friendship is a recurring theme throughout the DR GRETA HELSING books. They have the beneficent feel of a cozy mystery series. However, it’s crucial to love the characters in this kind of story. Shaw’s characters have gradually grown on me, but it took time. I still find Greta to be fairly dull, even though her job is interesting. I still don’t know much about her. What does she like to do? What are her hobbies? She just doesn’t have much personality. (Hey, scientists have personalities, too!)
It’s also taken me a while to warm up to Hachette Audio’s editions of the DR GRETA HELSING series. Susanna Hampton’s delivery cannot be called lively, but it fits Greta’s personality pretty well. As with the story itself, Hampton’s performance has gradually grown on me.
Fans of the DR GRETA HELSING series might also enjoy Emma Newman’s SPLIT WORLDS trilogy.