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Hunt for Sonya Dufrette Paperback – Bargain Price, June 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
This auspicious first in a new mystery series from Raichev, a Bulgarian long resident in London, introduces a sympathetic sleuth, Antonia Darcy, an assistant librarian at London's Military and Naval Club, a divorced grandmother and aspiring writer. Twenty years after the Royal Wedding, Antonia sadly remembers the little girl of the novel's title, who disappeared the same day Charles and Diana were married in July 1981. Along with Sonya's parents, Antonia was on holiday at a country house on the Thames at the time the young girl went missing and was presumed drowned, her body never recovered. When Antonia discovers a detailed account of Sonya's disappearance that she wrote shortly after the tragedy, Antonia has a strong sense that something isn't right with her story and sets out to satisfy her nagging doubts—with the help of her admirer and willing assistant, widower Maj. Hugh Payne. Agatha Christie fans will find much to like in this traditional whodunit. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Antonia Darcy is both a mystery writer and a librarian. Working at London's tony Military and Naval Club offers her the opportunity to meet a widower, Major Payne, who is as sharp as he is attractive. Antonia will need his help as she sets about solving a 25-year-old mystery. It was the day of the royal wedding in 1981 when Antonia attended a house party in the English countryside. An autistic child went missing and was presumed dead when her doll turned up floating in a lake. But as Antonia searches her memory, she begins to put together pieces of a puzzle that don't quite fit. Raichev, Bulgarian by birth, writes the kind of old-school English mysteries that fans of Christie and Sayers love: plenty of Albion ambience, a cast of eccentric characters, and a dogged search for clues. But this will be pleasing to more than traditionalists, because it adds a P. D. Jamesian subtlety to the comfortable Christie formula. Antonia Darcy is a terrific sleuth, and Raichev is a very clever writer, indeed. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Probably best described as a classic mystery from my standpoint, it takes place in the present (2001) yet has the feel of the 1930's or 1940's. The author wove in all the modern technology and yet didn't take away the warm intimacy with the locations and characters. That's quite a feat, especially for the first novel in a series. The novel begins as Antonia Darcy realizes that it is the twentieth anniversary of two very important events; the royal wedding of the century and the disappearance of an eight year old girl from Twiston, the country house where Antonia was a guest. A vague uneasy feeling has always accompanied her memories of the disappearance of little Sonya Dufrette and now she thinks she might be going mad. Has she really begun seeing Sonya's father in London? Was that he who came into the library of the Military Club? Antonia wrote her experiences of that day soon after all the events took place and decides to read that account again to set these nagging doubts of what really happened to rest.
I would like to call this an old fashioned mystery except that all the events take place in very modern times. It did, however, appeal to me and satisfy me in the same ways as those classic works by authors such as Dorothy Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, Georgette Heyer and Agatha Christie. Antonia teams up with Major Hugh Payne in working out the details of what happened to Sonya. It certainly will be interesting to read in the next story how the mutual attraction between this divorcée and widower has progressed. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in a puzzle to be solved, but here done without bloody corpses scattered throughout the countryside.
This is a delightful cosy mystery with a lot to recommend it. Both Antonia and Hugh are pleasant characters and there is a good cast of suspects, including a mother who is a volatile Russian alcoholic, a nanny who suddenly came into a windfall shortly after the disappearance of her charge and a major row between two guests on the morning of the royal wedding. As Antonia discovers the shocking truth about what really happened to little Sonya Dufrette, the plot comes together in a very believable way. Excellent start to a series and I will certainly read more.
Twenty years ago to the day she was a guest at a country house when Sonya Dufrette disappeared. Antonia re-reads her writing about the incident and starts to think that there was more to the story than she had thought at the time. Assisted by Major Hugh Payne she decides to find out if Sonya did drown in the nearby river or whether something completely different happened. There are some marvellously eccentric characters such as Sonya's parents - Lena and Laurence - and Antonia and Hugh are likeable.
I enjoyed the background - country house, Antonia's job at a gentleman's club running the library and the whole ambience of the book which reminded me of the country house murders published between the wars. IT is very well written and captures the atmosphere perfectly. If you enjoy classic country house mysteries then you will enjoy this book. It is the first in a series of modern country house mysteries.