A Tarot Puzzle
"Gypsy Jigsaw" Plot Summary:
Romania, 1830. The mortally wounded king tells his son to hide the Crown of Roma until their people are no longer persecuted, when fortune will guide a descendant to become the true king. 170 years later, Sydney's friend Garrett Burke is murdered in Bucharest after sending Sydney a package. Garrett had been seeking the lost Crown of Roma, and Claudia is delighted when his shipment contains Tarot cards. She tells Sydney that this deck are authentically Gypsy -- or, as Nigel notes, the more politically correct Roma. The backs of the Major Arcana reveal a map, but the Wheel of Fortune is missing. Because of Claudia's expertise, Sydney takes her along to Bucharest when she goes to seek the missing card.
Garrett died just outside a bookstore, where the clerk Nadia says he was seeking books about the Romani. Sydney is attacked by a man she believes to be The Vulture -- a thief who steals treasures from other relic hunters, then kills them -- but she manages to get away. Nigel compares a real map of Romania with the one on the cards and determines that the missing card would have illustrated Mount Pentruk, the site of an ancient castle. When Nadia meets Sydney at their cab to give her a book Garrett had wanted, the man who attacked Sydney overhears their destination.
Near Mount Pentruk, Sydney, Nigel and Claudia are accosted by men with guns, but the group takes them in for the night to a colorful gypsy camp. While Sydney gets drunk and learns of a curse connected with the castle they seek, Claudia gets her fortune told and learns that a tall, dark, handsome stranger will lead her to that which she seeks. When hunky prodigal son Adrian enters the camp, Claudia tells him he's her destiny and asks him to lead them to the castle in the morning. Sydney is furious that her assistant told the stranger about the Tarot deck, so when someone tries to steal it in the night, she suspects him.
Adrian takes the group up the mountain and recalls that when he was a child, he hid in the castle ruins, where he saw a card like the one in Sydney's deck. Inside a dark ancient tunnel, they find a panting of a king holding a Wheel of Fortune card, which is covered in wax and comes off when Sydney pulls on it. The card has writing sending them "three west and one south," which leads back to Bucharest on the map made by the deck of cards. "At the feet of angels, the crown awaits the true king's return." Nigel pulls out Garrett's book for directions to an old pauper's cemetery run by the Sisters of Mercy of the Angels, where Adrian says his ancestors are buried. The man from Bucharest bursts in and starts shooting, but Adrian shoots back so the others can escape.
The Sisters of Mercy of the Angels property has become a college, but the site of the old graveyard is marked by an angel sculpture. Sydney sends Nigel to get an old Roma dialect inscription translated, then asks Claudia to go inside the college looking for one of the sisters. At the bookstore, Nigel learns no one named Nadia ever worked there, while at the college, Claudia is taken hostage by Nadia -- who is really the Vulture. Sydney rescues her assistant just as Nigel returns with directions to open the statue. Adrian reaches inside to pull out the Crown of Roma, thus becoming the true Roma king.
Back at Trinity, Claudia explains that she couldn't take any more goulash and couldn't live without her gold card. Nigel is surprised she gave up the chance to be queen of the gypsies, but she's still queen of the campus.
An enjoyable if fluffy episode, "Gypsy Jigsaw" provided an entertaining puzzle but unfortunately didn't use the Tarot much to solve it -- as a fan like Claudia, I was hoping the Sun, the Hanged Man, and The World might provide clues, instead of a map on the backs of the cards. So Claudia's expertise is largely wasted, and she gets reduced to being the token screaming blonde gold-digger. Fortunately Lindy Booth is utterly charming in the role, and it was nice to see her for more than five minutes in Sydney's office for a change.
The identity of the Vulture created a bigger mystery. Adrian seemed an obvious choice to be the bad guy, so I figured he probably wasn't -- but that made his father the most likely suspect, while Nadia seemed far removed from the action near Mount Pentruk. So it's clever to have her turn up at the college just as Nigel is learning she never worked at the bookstore. Of course there's a gratuitous catfight, just as there's a gratuitous scene where Sydney undresses down to a white lace bra and panties, but far be it from me to complain about eye candy when she can also kick the butts of thugs who must resort to weapons against her.
Relic Hunter Reviews