“The Splash of Red” is the title of an enormous painting of a woman’s figure, slurred with red, a painting by Chloe’s ex-lover Kevin John Athlone. The painting, hanging on the bedroom wall looks as though blood has been splashed on the wall. After Chloe leaves Jemima thinks she’ll take down the painting – she doesn’t need reminders of Kevin John and his violent relationship with Chloe. As Jemima settles down to enjoy her stay, alone in the flat apart from Tiger, Chloe’s long-haired golden cat, her peace is shattered by an anonymous threatening phone call.
From that point on the mystery deepens. Chloe has disappeared. Her parents were expecting to see her, but she didn’t arrive. Chloe had told Jemima she was off to the Camargue, to write an article commissioned by Isabelle Mancini, the editor of the magazine, ‘Taffeta’, but it turns out this was a lie. Jemima bothered by yet another threatening phone call is distracted from her own research and returns to the flat to find Chloe in a real splash of red – lying across the bed with her throat cut. I thought I’d worked out who had killed Chloe from the numerous suspects, but I was completely wrong – which was good as it meant that I read with anticipation and was surprised by the actual culprit.
Who is Chloe’s mystery lover, ‘the most divine angel in heaven’ and who is the ‘new angel’ in her life with whom she had a surprising casual or carnal encounter? Then there are a number of suspects – Kevin John, her ex-lover; Adam Adamson, a squatter in the building and one of the objectors to Sir Richard Lionnel’s development of the concrete building that had replaced an elegant 18th century house; Sir Richard himself and his wife; Valentine Brightman, Jemima and Chloe’s publisher; and even Isabelle.
Jemima of course solves the mystery. This is the first Jemima Shore mystery I’ve read although I remember the TV series back in the 1980s with Patricia Hodge as Jemima. Now I’m going to have to add the other books to my ‘to be read’ list.