Murder at the Villa Byzantine (Antonia Darcy and Major Payne Series #6)

Murder at the Villa Byzantine (Antonia Darcy and Major Payne Series #6)

by R. T. Raichev
     
 

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When a birthday party for one of their Hampstead neighbors turns deadly, Antonia Darcy and Major Hugh Payne end up investigating the murder of one of Melisande Chevret's other guests. The aging actress becomes a natural suspect, as the victim was her love rival. But after the first murder, a second takes place at the Villa Byzantine. The owner of the house is royal

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Overview

When a birthday party for one of their Hampstead neighbors turns deadly, Antonia Darcy and Major Hugh Payne end up investigating the murder of one of Melisande Chevret's other guests. The aging actress becomes a natural suspect, as the victim was her love rival. But after the first murder, a second takes place at the Villa Byzantine. The owner of the house is royal biographer Tancred Vane, who swears he is innocent. And surely Catherine Hope, an elderly lady helping him with his research, can have nothing to do with it. A damning piece of evidence points to the victim's daughter—but why would that a teenage girl have a dainty silk handkerchief bearing her monogram? And would she drop it so conveniently beside her mother's body? As the questions mount, Antonia Darcy and Major Payne search desperately for answers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Raichev's middling sixth contemporary evocation of golden age whodunits featuring private detective Maj. Hugh Payne and his wife, mystery writer Antonia Darcy (after 2010's The Curious Incident at Claridge's), the couple reluctantly attend a birthday party for actress Melisande Chevret. The guests, an array of improbable eccentrics, include Stella Markoff, a woman who used to work for the rightful heir to the Bulgarian throne. When Markoff is later decapitated with a sword in the Villa Byzantine, the London home of her collaborator in a biography of another member of the Bulgarian royal family, the case appears open and shut, but Payne and Darcy are determined to look further. A sluggish plot goes hand in hand with the author's failure to rise to the challenge of making modern characters act and talk like ones from the 1930s without veering into parody. (Apr.)
Library Journal
A deadly birthday party has mystery writer Antonia Darcy and husband Maj. Hugh Payne up to their eyeballs in a murder probe. VERDICT This sixth series title (after The Curious Incident at Claridge's) offers a twisted plot with unusual characters and clever dialog that will appeal to fans of Golden Age mysteries.
From the Publisher
Praise for Murder at the Villa Byzantine:

"I have read all of Raichev's books. They are very clever. I really am a fan."—R.L. Stine

“R.T. Raichev, a Bulgarian-born Brit, delivers this classic with the perfect panache one expects from an author who wrote his doctoral dissertation on English crime fiction…Fans of the classic mystery who haven’t already discovered this excellent series should start here and then read the rest.”—Toronto Globe and Mail

“Clever . . . Set in contemporary London, Raichev's series has attitude, like a mash-up of Evelyn Waugh, P.G. Wodehouse and P.D. James.”—Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“Antonia and Hugh's sixth whodunit again wraps an intelligent mystery in a warm cloak of delightfully arch dialogue.”—Kirkus Reviews

“His sixth series title (after The Curious Incident at Claridge’s) offers a twisted plot with unusual characters and clever dialog that will appeal to fans of Golden Age mysteries.”—Library Journal

"Raichev clearly has a great deal of fun writing the books, giving these modern stories almost an Edwardian feel, and we're rewarded with finely drawn characters, clever murder mysteries, and dialogue that sparkles. Best recommended to fans of golden age authors (Christie, Sayers, et al.) who can tolerate a little modernity."—Booklist

Praise for R. T. Raichev:

"Antonia's third mystery deftly mixes dark humor and psychological suspense, its genteel surface masking delicious deviancy."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"Greed, jealousy, rampant emotions, and a killer lurk in the wings of this tale that mixes Henry James's psychological insight with Agatha Christie's whodunit plotting skills. Throw in a diabolically clever story line and the challenge to readers to figure out what is really going on, and Raichev once again triumphs in this totally fascinating game of wits. Highly recommended for all collections."—Library Journal, Starred Review

"Except for its modern-day setting, the book could have been published during Agatha Christie's heyday, the so-called Golden Age of detective fiction, and readers who relish that period will be delighted by Assassins at Ospreys."—Denver Post

Kirkus Reviews

A messy beheading sends bantering sleuths off on another investigative romp.

Renowned mystery writer Antonia Darcy and her husband Hugh Payne, a retired major, barely know their glamorous neighbor, aging actress Melisande Chevret. All the more reason to accept an invitation to the birthday party that she's throwing for herself at her grand residence, Kinderhook. For Antonia, the party is a study in social awkwardness by the many inappropriate comments of surly teenager Moon, the daughter of Stella Markoff, a Bulgarian emigré. The matronly Stella is working with renowned writer Tancred Vane on a biography of Prince Cyril, the brother of the late King Boris. Other guests include Melisande's mousy sister Winifred, her fiancé James Morland and playwright and raconteur Stanley Lennox. The plot thickens when Morland throws Melisande over for Stella, then darkens considerably when Stella is beheaded in Tancred Vane's home, the Villa Byzantine. Knowing the reputation of the Paynes, Morland visits Hugh (Antonia is away in America) to ask for help, which is readily supplied. When Antonia returns, the sleuthing accelerates, punctuated with droll and often inspired exchanges between the couple. Also in the mix are Morland's athletic sister Julia Henderson and a strange elderly spinster named Miss Hope, who tells fanciful tales of royal Bulgaria and seems a magnet for trouble. A second victim hastens Antonia's path to a solution.

Antonia and Hugh's sixth whodunit (The Curious Incident at Claridges, 2010, etc.) again wraps an intelligent mystery in a warm cloak of delightfully arch dialogue.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781569479148
Publisher:
Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
04/19/2011
Series:
Antonia Darcy and Major Payne Series, #6
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.68(h) x 0.92(d)

Meet the Author

R.T. Raichev is a researcher and writer who grew up in Bulgaria and wrote a university dissertation on English crime fiction. He is the author of six novels in the Antonia Darcy series and has lived in London since 1989.

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