Title: The Villa of Death
Author: Joanna Challis
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Historical Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5
The third installment in the Daphne du Maurier mystery series (after Murder on the Cliffs and Peril at Somner House introduces the reader to Ellen Hamilton, a pen friend of Daphne’s. Ellen is to be married to Teddy, the love of her life, and Daphne is thrilled at their marriage, as they were separated for ten years because of circumstances and miscommunications. But when Teddy is found murdered after the wedding, Ellen is devastated and Daphne is baffled, especially when the police begin to suspect Ellen. Daphne must discover who killed Teddy and why in order to bring her friend some closure, as well as clear her name.
The Villa of Death is another atmospheric and entertaining mystery starring a young Daphne du Maurier. Daphne is loveable, as always, and the indignation she feels on behalf of her friend shows her sense of loyalty. At the same time, though, Daphne has grown up. She can’t help but have doubts about Ellen, especially when the police have so much evidence against her. I appreciated Daphne’s support of her friend, but also liked that she wasn’t stubbornly ignoring evidence. It shows maturity, and makes it clear that Daphne is evolving as a character over the course of the series.
The mystery in The Villa of Death is certainly interesting. There are many possible suspects, the obvious and the subtle, and Daphne works with Major Frederick Browning to uncover the truth. While the plot isn’t completely gripping, it certainly is enough to keep the reader entertained for the duration. The solution to the mystery may occur to the reader early in the novel, but the ride to the end is still satisfying. The romance between Daphne and Browning is sweet, as readers will root for Daphne to find contentment.
Overall, The Villa of Death is another fun romp with the young Daphne. She has a lot of personality, and these books are just fun as a whole. As long as you don’t take them (or Challis’ Daphne) too seriously, and enjoy these books for what they are, you will find them very enjoyable. Historical mystery lovers should definitely be following this series.