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Tragedies


Strange quirks of history

MURDER AT ST. JAMES’S PALACE III

“Sellis’ torso was propped against the back of his bed, his head practically detached from his body. His sheets and nightshirt were bloodied. Precisely as you saw earlier, except he appeared to you standing upright while the footmen found the poor man on his bed. The guard sergeant immediately noticed that an open, bloodied razorblade…

MURDER AT ST. JAMES’S PALACE II

Born in 1771, Prince Ernest Augustus of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Cumberland, was 39 years old. The son of King George III and Queen Charlotte of England, he was, like all the princes of the reigning Hanoverian dynasty, blond, tall, burly, and red-faced. One-eyed, he sheltered his gaze under bushy eyebrows. His beloved,…

MURDER AT ST. JAMES’S PALACE I

It was thanks to Henry VIII that the monarchy settled at St. James’s, where it continues to reside, at least fictitiously, for to this day, the decrees of Queen Elizabeth II bear the words, “Given at our Court of St. James’s”. Over the centuries, Henry VIII’s palace has been reduced, half destroyed by fires, and…

KIZKALESI CASTLE

Many years ago, while travelling along the southern coast of Turkey, I stopped in the ancient village of Silifke, the Seleucia of Antiquity. Across it, in the middle of the sea, stood the towers of an imposing medieval castle that seemed to emerge from the water. Legend has it that in memorial times, be it…

THE TRAGIC WRITER

It has been a long time since I read “The Manuscript Found in Saragossa”, and yet I haven’t forgotten it. This novel, published at the turn of the 19th century, is a mixture of eccentricity, poeticism, and suspense. Written with a master’s hand, it is gripping; it cannot be put down, it is a truly…

PATMOS – THE CORPSE IN A BASKET

I did not stay long at that Patmonian cocktail party. I was bored, but mostly I didn’t like the house. It was beautiful; old and tastefully decorated, adorned with charming objects, and surrounded by an enchanting garden. And yet, I felt uneasy there. I returned home to find Maria still in the kitchen. I told…

THE DISFIGURED THIEF

It was 19th century Greece during King Otto of Bavaria’s reign. An elusive thief named Christos Davelis was ravaging the area of Mount Pentecliicus around north Athens. Word also had it that he was very handsome: so much so that he may well have seduced the Duchess of Plaisance. Sophie de Marbois was Lebrun’s widow,…

THE TALISMAN OF POPE BORGIA

  I have always had a weak spot for Pope Alexandre VI Borgia. History has smeared his name with horrid deeds; but I suspect that such a campaign was led in part by protestant propaganda. I had shared this theory with my youngest daughter Olga who was given zero for writing it in her homework….

THE MURDEROUS GARDENER

My aunt Bébelle, the Countess of Paris Isabelle d’Orléans Bragance, told me that when she was young she often visited one of her maternal aunts who owned a very beautiful villa on the banks of Lake Geneva. The aunt was especially proud of her garden, and of her roses in particular. One day, the aunt…