In this second appearance, London-based p.i. Ulysses Finnegan Donaghue (Mr. Donaghue Investigates, 1995) is persuaded to join an old friend, Dr. Clothilde Blanche, on a weekend trip to a valley in the French Alps where handsome, arrogant archaeologist Oliver Hardcastle has recently discovered Bronze Age inscriptions. Among fellow guests at the mountain lodge, run by Mario and Michou Antonelli, is Sir Hilary Compton, who, 20 years ago, found Bronze Age drawings at a site nearby. His frumpy wife, Beatrice, is just one of the women at the lodge targeted for seduction by Hardcastle, also in residence, while Sir Hilary examines the new find and rules on its authenticity. Soon, however, Hardcastle's body is found in a pool called the Lake of Shadows, and the lodge's pet parrot Petrocelli is found poisoned in its cage while a storm rages on the mountain, delaying outside help. Donaghue investigates on his own, questioning all the residents at interminable length, then coming up with a theory unimpressive even to the authorities when they finally arrive. The true solution, based on Sir Hilary's antic, over-the-top mind-set, is even sillier, though, in this show-offy exercise meant to evoke shades of Conan Doyle and Christie.
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