I hope Agnes Luthi's career in violent crimes is just getting started.
Agnes’ very first case with violent crimes, begins during one of the worst blizzards in recent memory, just outside the famed Chateau Vallotton.
The victim, a young woman named Felicity, working on behalf of an auction house, was taking inventory of the art and historical pieces stored at the Chateau.
She was found stabbed out in the deadly cold, dressed in a beautiful evening gown, wearing a man’s coat.
Now it would seem that everyone on the premises is under suspicion. Could one of the wealthy residents have killed Felicity, or was it one of the staff, or maybe someone living in the mansion next door?
Either way, Agnes must discover the truth, which is complicated by a few stunning revelations of the victim’s past and by the ailing patriarch of the neighboring manor, who engages Agnes with the sorrowful tales of his youth.
Agnes’s depression and sadness vibrate off the pages as she suffers from the grief and pain of losing her husband, George, and facing the burden of raising her three sons without their father. But, her job helps to keep her mind occupied, and is cathartic for her, in many ways.
I really liked Agnes. Her compassion and empathy makes her a different type of crime solver, even if she was a little awkward in the beginning, until she finds her footing. She’s a deep thinker who reaches into her own emotional depth to help her understand the human frailties that led to such a tragic outcome.
This is a contemporary mystery, but features a prominent historical thread, as well.
The author did a wonderful job of merging the past with the present and seamlessly blends the two together to create a well crafted mystery.
The scenery, against the backdrop of a dangerous blizzard and bone chilling cold, creates an even darker and more sinister atmosphere, trapping the suspects together, which was a nice touch.
The story did lose momentum once or twice, becoming a little too bogged down with personal dramas, but quickly regained its balance.
I love a good ‘whodunit’, and am thankful anytime I find one with a fresh approach, with a nice spin on a classic formula. The very slight Gothic tones didn’t hurt, either.
As a debut novel, the author did a wonderful job with the plot, atmosphere, and characterizations, making a very nice impression!
Anyone who loves mysteries will enjoy this novel!
Swiss Vendetta, Tracee de Hahn's mesmerizing debut, is an emotionally complex, brilliantly plotted mystery set against the beautiful but harsh backdrop of a Swiss winter.
Inspector Agnes Lüthi, a Swiss-American police officer in Lausanne, Switzerland, has just transferred to the Violent Crimes unit from Financial Crimes to try to shed all reminders of her old life following her husband's death. Now, on the eve of the worst blizzard Lausanne has seen in centuries, Agnes has been called to investigate her very first homicide case. On the lawn of the grand Château Vallotton, at the edge of Lac Léman, a young woman has been found stabbed to death. The woman, an appraiser for a London auction house, had been taking inventory at the château, a medieval fortress dripping in priceless works of art and historical treasures.
Agnes finds it difficult to draw answers out of anyone—the tight-lipped Swiss family living in the château, the servants who have been loyal to the family for generations, the aging WWII survivor who lives in the neighboring mansion, even the American history student studying at the Vallotton château's library. As the storm rages on, roads become impassible, the power goes out around Lausanne, and Agnes finds herself trapped in the candlelit halls of the château with all the players of the mystery, out of her depth in her first murder case and still struggling to stay afloat after the death of her husband.