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C. S. Challinor

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Category: 

Mystery/Suspense

Publisher:  Midnight Ink Books ISBN-10:  0738714399 Type: 
Pages: 

300

Copyright:  Jan 1, 2008 ISBN-13:  9780738714394
Fiction

Amazon
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Rex Graves

2nd novel in the Rex Graves Mystery series, Midnight Ink Books, May 2009.

Scots barrister Rex Graves travels to an exclusive nudist resort in the French West Indies to solve the mystery of a missing actress.   

"In MURDER IN THE RAW, Scottish barrister Rex Graves must expose--and I do mean expose--the killer of Sabine Durand, a French actress who goes missing one evening from a nudist resort in the Caribbean...Set on an island, MURDER IN THE RAW is a clever variant on the locked room mystery, and Rex discovers that everyone in this self-contained locale has a secret when it comes to the intriguing Sabine. Who, though, would benefit from her disappearance or murder...? With a host of colorful characters, a dose of humor and a balmy locale, you will want to devour this well-plotted mystery. I won't spoil your pleasure by divulging the solution, but suffice it to say that Challinor provides a most compelling answer."--Lynne F. Maxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine 

"...the plot twists are worthy of Erle Stanley Gardner."--Booklist

"A solid choice for traditional mystery fans, MURDER IN THE RAW provides some new twists on something old and familiar.--The Mystery Reader                                       

"Scottish barrister Rex Graves is summoned to the Caribbean island of St. Martin to help find a missing actress, Sabine Durand. After she is a no-show at a celebratory dinner with friends, searchers find a torn piece of her wraparound skirt on the beach, along with a few other personal items. Local police aren’t eager to investigate, surmising her body will wash up – or not if her body is eaten by sharks. If her presumed death was not accidental, it’s likely the culprit is one of the guests at the “clothing optional” resort where the actress and her husband were staying... I do like the Rex Graves character. He’s a bit old-fashioned and straight-laced, so placing him at a nudist resort makes for some funny encounters."--Cozy Library 

"Challinor's depiction of Plage d'Azur as a public nude beach and private naturist resort will resonate authentically with anyone who has had the pleasure of soaking up some rays at Club O's Orient Beach. MURDER IN THE RAW is one of the more recent contributions to a growing library of mystery novels of interest to naturists, and naked readers will especially enjoy how Challinor 'gets it right.'"--N Magazine of Naturist Living

"Who wouldn't take a case in the land of sun, blue water, and delightful breeze, especially if your costs are being covered?... There are lots of suspects, red herrings, and plot twists in this traditional mystery in a unique setting."--Kaw Valley Senior Monthly (Kansas)



  

Excerpt
St. Martin, French West Indies
Testimony of David Weeks

It is unbelievable that Sabine Durand is dead. She was the essence of our group, the lingering perfume, if you will. Whenever I evoke Saint Martin, it is always Sabine I conjure up in my memory.
I often saw her walking at dusk along the shore, always alone. Our beach cabana is the last of eight before the promontory of rocks begins on the eastern side. She would have had to climb those rocks to get to the strand of beach beyond, but she was agile enough, I suppose. In any case, there was no other access except by boat. People sometimes dock their catamarans on that side, but since you can sunbathe nude all along La Plage d'Azur, there really isn't any point in going over there unless you want to "do it" au nature. People, after all, pay big money to be seen in the buff at La Plage.
We've been coming to Saint Martin for ten years now. You end up synchronizing your holiday with other couples. It's always the same crowd in July: Paul and Elizabeth Winslow, Dick and Penny Irving, the O'Sullivans, the von Muellers, the Farleys... Duke Farley has been bringing his new wife Pam the last couple of years, so I suppose it's not exactly the same crowd as before. Brooklyn Chalmers brought a girlfriend two years ago, but not this time around. And, of course, Vernon and Sabine. July is by far and away the best time. August is Swingers' Month and come September you run into hurricane season.
I don't know whether we'll return next year. It won't be the same without Sabine, and I doubt Vernon will come back, poor fellow. He must feel dreadfully guilty. After all, he never accompanied his wife on her walks, though I think she preferred it that way. She was remote and mysterious. I think that was part of the allure. She drew people like moths to a candle. You wanted to protect her from singing her wings, sort of thing. Well, the others will say the same, I'm sure.
Sabine always wore the diaphanous white pareo on her walks. She would have taken it off before she went for a swim, which would explain why part of it was found by the rocks. But she wouldn't have gone for a dip right before dinner. I don't go for the shark theory--she would have known better than to go swimming at dusk. Then again, she never was the sort of person to do what you'd expect. More likely a stalker was involved; actresses often attract that sort.
It must have been just after six P.M. on Tuesday 10th when I saw her for the last time on her walk. We usually all meet at seven for drinks at The Cockatoo. My wife and I sometimes escorted Sabine to the restaurant on her way back, but it was Paul Winslow's birthday, and we didn't want to be late, so we left our cabana in good time. We never saw Sabine again.
Those are my recollections of the night in question.
Signed,
David Weeks





Professional Reviews

Mystery Scene Magazine
"In MURDER IN THE RAW, Scottish barrister Rex Graves must expose--and I do mean expose--the killer of Sabine Durand, a French actress who goes missing one evening from a nudist resort in the Caribbean...Set on an island, MURDER IN THE RAW is a clever variant on the locked room mystery, and Rex discovers that everyone in this self-contained locale has a secret when it comes to the intriguing Sabine. Who, though, would benefit from her disappearance or murder...? With a host of colorful characters, a dose of humor and a balmy locale, you will want to devour this well-plotted mystery. I won't spoil your pleasure by divulging the solution, but suffice it to say that Challinor provides a most compelling answer."--Lynne F. Maxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine

Booklist
"...the plot twists are worthy of Erle Stanley Gardner."


The Mystery Reader
In slightly risqué Agatha Christie style, Scottish barrister Rex Graves travels to the Caribbean island of St. Martin to investigate the disappearance, and presumed death, of the young and beautiful French actress Sabine Durand. Rex is distressed to learn the airline has lost his luggage, but is even more distressed when he learns that the place where he will be staying is a naturist (nudist) resort and that he will be interviewing witnesses who will not be able to hide anything, literally.
Knowing that a few pints of Guinness make most things easier to take, Rex begins interviewing the men and women with whom Sabine spent most of her time. Rex learns that most of the men adored Sabine, but very few of the women did...

Cozy fans will enjoy this twist on a village cozy and will eagerly follow along in Rex’s investigation, which not only solves Sabine’s case, but also solves the case of a murderer with a fondness for jewels. Rex is an enjoyable character, who soldiers on, though a bit uncomfortable with his current surroundings.

The resolution may be surprising to some readers, but others may wonder why it was not something Rex considered from the beginning. There are enough suspects and suspicions to go around, but as always, careful reading will win out. As for Rex, he is being pursued by the lovely Helen whom he met on his last case, but is distressed not to have heard from his journalist girlfriend who is undercover in Iraq, maybe more undercover than Rex would like to think.

A solid choice for traditional mystery fans, MURDER IN THE RAW provides some new twists on something old and familiar.
--Jennifer Monahan Winberry



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