The Death of Corinne is RT Raichev's second novel featuring Antonia Darcy, a now semi-successful crime writer in her forties. She is married to Major Payne as compared with being the focus of his ardour in the first novel. In this novel, Antonia and her now husband Hugo have just returned from an arduous honeymoon in France and other countries to be invited to the country house of Hugo's aunt Lady Grylls.
On the cusp of their arrival one of his Aunts friends contacts her wishing to send the world famous singer Corinne to stay with her because she had been receiving death threats in the post. The singer Corinne is a woman in her fifties, still young looking, breathtaking voice and beautiful manners. She is also travelling with her companion, the formidable and considerably older Maitre Maginot, along with the main narrative is the story of a rich American woman who believes that the singer's voice drove her son to suicide.
That's the central tenet of the second novel to feature Antonia and Major Payne and once again reinforces the author as amongst the best crime writers around at the moment. The author once again toys rather fetchingly with the supposed intelligence of the reader, brought up on the rather predictable crime novels of PD James, Ruth Rendell etc, Raichev raises the bar above these pedantic novels by asking the simple question would such events really happen to a successful crime writer who happens to be visiting her Aunt in the country?
Once again the author uses the vehicle of the jobbing amateur sleuth to create at the same time an enjoyable tale of murder, mystery and suspense and at the same time poke fun at the novels using the same method. My favourite part of the novel was the gentle fun at the expense of the threatened Corinne; I loved this part with the interplay between Antonia and Hugo.
This book once again shows the writers skill at taking us away from the staid and predictable stately home style Miss Marple/Murder she wrote thriller to a book which displays a crime in context with the real world. The people in the book are a little over the top, but then that's a strength in my opinion not a weakness, yes Lady Grylls is a bit of an overdone everyone's elderly Aunt and Hugo as the world weary society ex-Army personnel.
This is a clever novel, it has to be in truth because it has to hold the reader until the dastardly deed is done, this takes place well into the novel and gives the reader a satisfying murder mystery and a nice chance for Antonia and Hugo to extend their cerebral matter and work out who died and why. Once again, as with the first novel in the series the murder feels almost like an aside in which the participants can be shown off to their best or worst qualities. So here we have moved on from the gentle flirting between the Major and Antonia in the first novel and are now in the firm stages of being married. The two still act as though in love and are clearly enjoying each other's company in a physical and mental capacity.
The other theme in the novel is loss of youth, this is the core of the story but the writer gives us this as a sense of loss but also with Antonia and Hugo as a chance to re-discover lost loves in your now middle age.
At just over 200 pages, this is for me the perfect novel for if you're sat on a train or plane for a couple of hours because it engages the reader, satisfies but isn't unbearably long and doesn't overstay its welcome.