Strange Images of Death
Review: Scotland Yard Detective Joe Sandilands is on leave with plans to vacation in the south of France, but is sidetracked when a request for help comes from an old friend living in a chateau near his destination in Strange Images of Death, the eighth mystery in this series by Barbara Cleverly.
It's a hot summer day in 1926 when Joe, together with 14-year-old Dorcas Joliffe, who had been staying at Joe's sister's home following the death of her mother, arrives at the ancient chateau in Provence where the girl's father, Orlando, and her brothers live. The chateau's owner, Bertrand, the Lord of Silmont, has opened up his home to an eclectic mix of artists and fans of the arts. Upon their arrival, after all the introductions and pleasantries have been concluded, Orlando tells Joe of a mysterious happening at the chateau. A 600-year-old statue of Lady Alienore, a nobel woman of legendary beauty, lying alongside her crusading warrior, has been demolished. Her sculptured body had been separated from her lover and been hacked to pieces by a barbarous hand, the shard pieces thrown into a darkened corner of the room. Orlando, afraid more violence may be in the offing, asks Joe to stay on and help find the person guilty of the destruction. But before Joe can make much headway, a boy, the son of the cook, goes missing while the children are playing games. And then an artist's young, beautiful model, who bore a striking resemblance to Lady Alienore, is murdered. Are the two incidents related? And what of the missing boy?
Strange Images of Death is a fascinating manor house-style period mystery, replete with an atmospheric setting that effectively blends a historical past with a relatively modern (albeit nearly a century old) present, and includes a colorful cast of characters. Joe Sandilands is a strong, likeable protagonist, who displays a generous amount of warmth and humor as well as an uncommon measure of common sense. An added element here that gives the book a somewhat playful tone is the character of Dorcus Joliffe, a typical, headstrong teenager, whose inclusion in the story complements the actions of the more methodical detective. Not a book to breeze through, readers who take their time savoring all the details of Strange Images of Death will be well rewarded.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Strange Images of Death.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided a copy of Strange Images of Death for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Folly du Jour
Soho Constable (Hardcover), August 2008
ISBN-13: 9781569475133; ISBN-10: 156947513X
The Blood Royal
Soho Constable (Hardcover), September 2011
ISBN-13: 9781569479872; ISBN-10: 1569479879
Location(s) referenced in Strange Images of Death: Provence, france
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Strange Images of Death by Barbara Cleverly — A Joe Sandilands Mystery
Publisher: Soho Constable
Publication Date: April 2010
List Price: $25.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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