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The Charmers    by Elizabeth Adler order for
by Elizabeth Adler
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Minotaur, 2017 (2016)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

As The Charmers opens, Mirabella Matthews (successful author of suspense novels) has just inherited the Villa Romantica in the south of France from her elderly Aunt Jolly, who was recently murdered. The villa has quite a history! And the author takes readers back and forth in time to gradually reveal past events - from the rescue of a Turner painting in the 1912 Titanic disaster to the scene of a 1939 tragedy on a French beach.

But in the present day, we quickly learn that Aunt Jolly was killed on the orders of her neighbor, uber villain, Boris Boronovsky (now called simply the Boss). He's a vicious charmer who has a strong sadistic streak and much too much power for his own good. His undistinguished henchman, the Russian, does his bidding, from theft to assassination.

He has a go at Mirabella too, running her car off the road as she journeys to her new home. And she has company, having offered refuge to a distraught young blonde, Verity Real, whom she met on the Paris-Nice train. After they recover from the accident, Verity stays with Mirabella at the Villa, where there is another neighbor as well as the Boss - handsome physician Chad Prescott, also rather a charmer.

Last but not least in the trio of male charmers is the local detective, Colonel Rufus Barrada, who investigates the violent events that unfold. The story, told from too many alternating points of view, ends up rather scattered. But those who persist will have the satisfaction of finding out what happened to the original Villa Romantica tenant, as well as watching the Boss get his due and couples get together.

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