French detective Maurice Leroux is invited to look into four deaths that occurred in the space of a year at Alexandra Hall, a mansion owned by Aaron Nightingale and his Greek wife, Calista – two of the victims. The other two are Vera, Aaron’s sister, and a maid. Foul play is suspected. M. Leroux finds the atmosphere at the hall both sinister and mysterious. The housekeeper, a frightening individual, locks him in his bedroom at night ‘for his own protection’, but a locked door doesn’t allay his creeping suspicion that someone, somehow, has entered. The four maids and gardener, all owning various degrees of strangeness, act as if they have something to hide.
In such a book we might expect to read about spectral figures and things that go bump in the night. Here everyday objects take on a sinister aspect: spoons, a fountain that must never be turned off. M. Leroux’s own demons are resurrected – and none could be worse than a vicious mother – as he delves deeper into the mystery, comes to understand the relationships between the four victims and uncovers a terrible secret in the cellar of the house.
The author builds the drama very effectively to a satisfactory conclusion that will surprise. I am new to this genre, but I enjoyed it and it didn’t keep me awake at night.
Laura Rahme is a French-Australian writer based in Brittany, France. She holds university degrees in the fields of Aerospace Avionics and in Psychology. While living in Australia, she worked twenty years in information technology, and penned three historical novels. The Ming Storytellers (2012) was well received by the Historical Novel Society and is an epic tale featuring real-life admiral, Zheng He, and set in Beijing during the Ming Dynasty. Laura wrote the occult mystery, The Mascherari: A Novel of Venice (2014) after a short stay in Venice. Her third novel, Julien’s Terror (2017), a blend of gothic mystery and psychothriller, is set during and in the aftermath of the French revolution. Calista is her fourth novel. Laura is married to award-winning screenwriter, Shane Krause.