Many plot the death of an elderly invalid, but who draws the final curtain?
Mystery novelist Antonia Darcy is accosted at a book signing by Beatrice, an overfriendly, wheelchair-bound fan, and her companion Ingrid. Reluctantly accepting an invitation to tea, Antonia finds herself fascinated by the pair, who seem to be masking their true natures. Raichev reveals through chapters that hopscotch among the perspectives of multiple characters that Bee was crippled 30 years ago in a car accident. While her fiancé Ralph was driving, their car hit the pregnant Ingrid, who lost her unborn child. As Ingrid and Bee developed an odd symbiosis, Ralph went to America and made a fortune. Now dying of cancer, he’s returned and taken up residence nearby in the grand estate of Ospreys, determined to earn Bee’s forgiveness. Bee is engaged to stolid Colville, who has suspicions about both Ralph and Ingrid. The latter are well-founded, Colville realizes when he learns that Ingrid has been impersonating Bee in visits to Ralph. More predators lurk within Ospreys’ walls. Ralph’s spiritual advisor, Father Lillie-Lysander, who filches drugs for his personal use, is in league with Ralph’s no-account nephew Robin, who’s planning to murder his uncle. Can Antonia and her husband Hugh ferret out the true menace?
Antonia’s third mystery (The Death of Corinne, 2007, etc.) deftly mixes dark humor and psychological suspense, its genteel surface masking delicious deviancy.