Book Review: The Riddle of Sphinx Island

February 3, 2014 Whitney Review 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Riddle of Sphinx IslandThe Riddle of Sphinx Island by R.T. Raichev
Series: County House Crime Mystery #8
Published by The History Press on November 1, 2013
Genres: Mystery
Source: Publisher

The eighth entry in the acclaimed Antonia Darcy and Major Payne mystery series offers a modern twist on Agatha Christie's most famous whodunit, And Then There Were None.

Detective story writer Antonia Darcy and her husband Hugh Payne are asked to travel to Devon in order to prevent a murder on Sphinx Island, but they are far from enthusiastic as they suspect an elaborate joke. And when they hear that one of the house party guests is Romaine Garrison-Gore, another crime writer, they have no doubt that they will walk into a rather tedious variant of the Murder Weekend. After all, it is their 10th wedding anniversary and Major Payne's aunt, Lady Grylls, has been trying to think of a truly original present for them. But then they receive a rather sinister letter signed "The Riddler" and become curious—could the devil speak true?

The Riddle of Sphinx Island was an interesting read.  I would be remiss not to compare Major Payne and Antonia Darcy to Nick and Nora Charles, with quick wit and smarts all they were missing was Asta.  The story was entertaining with a cast of eccentric characters, reminding me of the 1985 movie Clue.  It was great fun.  Until the pseudo-murder is solved, then I fear it jumped the shark.  Transgender and CIA mingle into the story and it was all a bit too bizarre for my taste.  I could understand the intricacies the author laid out earlier but, and while vague as to not give anything away, was a little too off the wall.  The last forty or so pages redeemed itself.  I had an idea who the culprit was but it was fun to see it play out.  In the end, The Riddle of Sphinx Island concluded on a high note.

On an end note, I want to share my favorite passage in the book.  Which in itself is a bit obscure and is a little irrelevant to the murder, but I was pleased with it all the same.


“Gott is Tott…
Doctor Klein was in his room and he was singing.  It was an old and rather obscure german song with an untranslatable title.Something about the death of hope, the death of love, the death of God…

Tears as large as pearls ran down his white face.  A cinema buff may have been put in mind of Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bete.  Belle’s teardrops turning into glittering diamonds, much to her delight.

But in Doctor Klein’s heart there was no delight, only darkness.
~ Pages 154 & 155

I am one such cinema buff and was delighted to see this reference.  By the novel’s conclusion, I shared Belle’s sentiment and found The Riddle of Sphinx Island to be a delightful read, particularly for a rainy day.


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