I’m always looking for new mystery authors to read, so after noticing positive reviews for this book in trade journals, I picked it up. It had everything I look for in a mystery: a unique setting (a chateau in Switzerland), a compelling sleuth, and a good puzzle. Agnes Luthi is a Swiss-American police inspector who is struggling with the recent suicide of her husband. Recently transferred from financial crimes to the violent crimes division, she is sent to a grand chateau on Lac Leman, just outside Lausanne, to investigate a murder. Unfortunately for Agnes, Switzerland is in the middle of its worst ice storm in decades. She barely makes it to the chateau before the power goes out, roads are closed, and the chateau’s inhabitants are all trapped there. Thus begins de Hahn’s variation on the classic locked-room mystery.
The murder victim is a young British woman who has been appraising antiques at the castle. There is no shortage of possible suspects in residence: the wealthy Vallotton family who owns the chateau, some foreign guests staying for an extended period, or even the mysterious elderly Russian gentleman who lives in the mansion next door. As Agnes makes her way through the list of possible killers, she learns secrets from the past and some surprising facts about her own husband’s death. And the cold, both literal and figurative, that seeps into the chateau is almost palpable.
Hopefully this book is the start of a series; I’d like to see more of Agnes Luthi. Swiss Vendetta is a perfect read for a chilly night.