cover image Death Notes: A Phineas Fox Mystery

Death Notes: A Phineas Fox Mystery

Sarah Rayne. Severn, $29.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8660-6

London music researcher Phineas Fox, the hero of this enjoyable contemporary series launch from Rayne (What Lies Beneath), reluctantly agrees to prepare a TV documentary on Roman Volf, a Russian violinist accused of assassinating Czar Alexander II. Fox discovers a photo of Volf taken in Odessa, a detail of which indicates that he could not have been in St. Petersburg on Mar. 13, 1881, the day of Alexander’s murder. Could Volf have been innocent of the crime? An Internet search reveals an article titled “Roman Volf, the Father I Never Knew,” by music hall performer Mortimer Quince. Fox immediately buys a ticket for Kilcarne, Ireland, where Quince spent his so-called mature years. The narrative bounces between Fox’s research and excerpts from Quince’s endearingly funny diary, with forays into the melancholy state of mind of Beatrice Drury, who has returned to Ireland for the first time since the tragic accident that killed her daughter. By turns jaunty and thrilling, this one will appeal to fans of traditional mysteries rooted in history. (Jan.)