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Strange Images of Death: A Joe Sandilands Mystery    by Barbara Cleverly order for
Strange Images of Death
by Barbara Cleverly
Order:  USA  Can
Soho, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Barbara Cleverly's Joe Sandilands mysteries have earned plenty of respect in the past from reviewers (e.g., Publishers Weekly boasted that 'Cleverly out-Christie's Agatha Christie'; the New York Times described the novels as 'spectacular and dashing'; and the Library Journal praised Cleverly for 'evocative narrative{s}, sensitive characterizations, artful dialogue, and masterly plotting'), and, as further confirmation of that respect, Strange Images of Death, the latest in the series, almost certainly means even more satisfied readers and reviewers.

When the action begins, Scotland Yard detective Joe Sandilands is driving through the south of France in August of 1926 on an important errand: he is bringing his adolescent niece Dorcas Joliffe to a medieval castle where the girl's eccentric father and a colorful assortment of artists have taken up temporary residence.

Almost immediately, a vandalized statue and the murder of a beautiful artist's model, investigated by local police, ensnare Sandilands in a complicated mystery, one in which a dastardly villain lurks in the shadows. And on top of all of this - as dangers to everyone escalate - a more personal puzzle requires careful attention: finding Dorcas's mother, a woman not involved in the girl's life but presumably living (perhaps) somewhere in Provence.

Well, if the storyline preview doesn't sufficiently entice you to read Strange Images of Death, let me borrow from previously cited reviewers and point out that this recommended Sandilands adventure features an 'evocative narrative, sensitive characterizations, artful dialogue ... masterly plotting' and something else: a great setting (i.e., using a medieval castle for a murder mystery, of course, helps make this one an absolute winner).

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