Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Murder of Gonzago, by R.T. Raichev

The Murder of Gonzago
by R.T. Raichev

"Lord Remnant was shot through the back of the head by a giant rabbit," Antonia said.

If you're looking for contemporary authors who set their mystery fiction in the modern day while still imparting something of a traditional feel to it, then be sure to R.T. Raichev to your list. The Bulgarian-born author wrote a dissertation on English crime fiction and it shows, not only in the way he tells a story but also in the way his characters frequently make sly references to various aspects of crime fiction.

If you know Shakespeare better than I (which wouldn't take much doing) you might know that The Murder of Gonzago is a play within a play that takes place in Hamlet. When wealthy old Lord Remnant and a few guests at his private island of Grenadin stage their amateur production of this curiosity he ends up rather deadish. While circumstances suggest that there might have been some suspicious goings-on, it doesn't help much that the old bat's body was hastily hustled off and cremated.

As it turns out the Lord was not a particularly likable sort, to put it mildly, and thus there was the usual cast of relatives and acquaintances who might have done him in. Which is the cue for mystery writer Antonia Darcy and her husband Major Hugh Payne to get involved and try to unravel this tricky case, which is full of a fair number of twists and turns.

Having reviewed two of Raichev's books now (here's the other), I'm still not quite sure what to make of them. I find them to be very well-written and entertaining to read but for me they're lacking that little bit of something that would put them into the must-read category along with the likes of someone like Christopher Fowler or C.S. Challinor. I can't quite figure out what it is that's missing. But I suspect that I'll be checking out another in this series at some point down the line. Perhaps it will come to me then.

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