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Strange Images of Death
Joe Sandilands Murder Mysteries - Book VIII

by Barbara Cleverly


Joe Sandilands is killing two birds with one stone when he heads off down to the Riviera to meet up with a friend while escorting young Dorcas back to her father.† Orlando is staying with a group of other artists in a castle in rural Provence, and when Joe and Dorcas arrive something unusual has just occurred.† Soon after so does a murder, and of course Joe stays on to solve the crime...

This is a house party murder with a difference, set in a castle in the sun-soaked South of France.† To its detriment there are not a lot of surprises in here, and I found myself at least one jump ahead of Joe all the time to the extent that I hoped that something—anything—would be introduced to give some element of revelation.† But this aside, it is hard to find too much fault with a novel that has so much else to recommend about it.† Ms. Cleverly is adept at descriptions, and here she is in her element with the spooky old castle inhabited by its custodians and a crew of decadent artists.† But this is also a coming-of-age story, where Dorcas learns about herself and grows up.† Even this is not all, as surely the most memorable and powerful aspect of this novel lies in its depiction of the English personís dream of "a place in the sun."† Ultimately, the wise among the group learn that they do not belong in this ancient land of sun and secrets, which is always shown as alien.† This is first shown in an exotic, beguiling way and later in a way that shows the vast gulf that lies between two very different peoples and places.† This is the part of the story that tends to linger long after the book is closed.† Just think what a cracker it would have been if the mystery part had been more original!

The Book

Constable (Constable and Robinson)
March 2010
1849011184 / 9781849011181
Historical Mystery / 1926 Provence, France
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2010
© 2010