In the quiet English village of Marmis Parva, a weekend house party is organised by a society hostess and all the top names are invited.
But this is no ordinary party.
Two men are savagely murdered during the course of the first evening and a young man, presumed dead, returns home after two years imprisonment in South Africa bringing with him proof of treason.
Detective Chief Inspector Elliott Caine’s long-awaited holiday in the Lake District is cancelled as he is brought in to investigate the peculiar nature of the murders. More bodies are discovered and Elliott has to manoeuvre between high society, Government protocols, and the heinous nature of the crimes if he and his old friend Detective Sergeant Abernathy Thorne, are to catch the sadistic killer and the traitor lurking amongst them.
When Caine’s past comes back to haunt him, will his judgement be too clouded to focus on solving the crime?
Will the Boer spy’s identity be uncovered before they can flee?
How are these murders connected to another in New York?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I love the way this Victorian murder mystery is set out. Two prologues, one detailing an event in New York, one with distinctly supernatural overtones, and then the story is divided into parts. The story has a timeline, which is often used in contemporary police procedurals and murder mysteries, and this device is cleverly used here to introduce suspects and false clues.
The murders are gruesome and the atmosphere is menacing. This is also a political thriller, with hints of treason. The traditional country house setting lulls the reader into believing that nothing exciting is happening here, but two murders and a host of political intrigue belie that assumption by the end of the book’s opening chapters.
The characters are complex, in keeping with the Victorian setting, but many have reasons to kill, but the question is would they murder in such a macabre way? The detective team are enigmatic and easy to like, clever, eccentric and full of flair, they are a match for the murderer, but will their humanity be their undoing?
An atmospheric setting, believable historical characters and twisty plot make this story stand out, and the reader looks forward to the next one in the series.
Rhen Garland lives in Somerset, England with her folk-singing, book-illustrating husband, approximately 4000 books, an equal number of ancient movies, and a large flock of stuffed sheep.
She enjoys the countryside, peace, and Prosecco and the works of Ngaio Marsh, Glady Mitchell, John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson, Agatha Christie, and Terry Pratchett.
“I watch far too many old school murder mystery films, TV series, and 1980s action movies for it to be considered healthy.”
“A Portrait of Death” is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the first book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series.