Inspector Agnes Lüthi investigates a violent death among the Swiss aristocracy in this debut mystery.
Raw with grief and seeking a fresh start, Agnes has just transferred from financial crimes to violent crimes when she gets her first case. As the blizzard of the century sweeps across Lac Léman, a dead body is discovered on the grounds of Château Vallotton, an ancient fortress on the lake. The victim is Felicity Cowell, a lovely young Englishwoman from a prestigious auction house, at the château to catalog some family treasures. The roads are impassable, the power is out, and the telephones are down. Only a resident of the château could have committed the crime, and Agnes and her little team are on their own to discover which one. Nearly all the suspects seem as unlikely as they are familiar—the patrician marquise, the highly competent housekeeper, the elderly plutocrat residing in the adjacent mansion—except for the American graduate student researching in the library who knows about the victim’s shady past. But when the marquise’s young ward goes missing and old bones are discovered on the grounds, the plot darkens in the shadow of the Vallottons’ long history. The storm isolating the ancestral castle recalls the structure of a classic English country-house murder, but the setting in contemporary Switzerland and the astute policewoman as protagonist bring an edge.
A well-constructed mystery that will leave readers pleasantly anticipating a sequel.