Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter holiday service at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. | ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO / POOL

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There’s been a spate of Russian ‘murder-suicides’ from Moscow to Madrid that would settle sublimely between the pages of a Le Carré novel. Sergey Protosenya, a multi-millionaire gas tycoon and former stooge of Putin, and his wife and 18-year-old daughter, were all found dead at their Spanish villa.

It’s rather satirical to describe this as a domestic killing when there were no prints on the weapon, the family had by all accounts been excited about their holiday together and the supposed murderer, the father, was shown to have been badly beaten up before apparently hanging himself in the garden. Self-flagellation, anyone?

I suppose the Spanish police have to go through the motions but these brutal assassinations aren’t fooling anyone. All the same, who’s behind them and why? Protosenya’s wife and daughter had been savagely hacked to death with an axe which isn’t the normal kind of killing for the KGB or a classic assassin. The blood spatter could pose too messy and DNA matches could be found. On the other hand, any cold and experienced assassin could easily add some of the father’s DNA into the mix potentially to prove his guilt.

Meanwhile, Vladislav Avayev, another Russian tycoon, was found dead with his wife and young daughter in Moscow. Murder-suicide or simply a hit job? One wonders whether the Ukrainians might have assassins on the loose but this is most likely Putin’s KGB machine in action. Were these tycoons planning a coup? Had they refused to fund the Kremlin? Did they hold secrets that could push Putin over the edge?

Perhaps, this kind of savage murder rampage is purely for Putin to let his potential Russian critics and former allies know that he has their number, knows where they are and can dispose of them at the drop of a hat. These cold and heartless murders of children and women too, are giving out a clear and chilling message to other disobedient Russian oligarchs living in global luxury boltholes. Be afraid, be very afraid. We’re coming for you.

Demon Depp

I’m a huge fan of Johnny Depp as an actor. Who could not have been bowled over by his appearance in Edward Scissorhands back in 1990 and performances in the likes of What’s eating Gilbert Grape and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? Deservedly, he has won countless awards from Golden Globes to Academy gongs so what’s gone wrong?
These days, all we seem to hear about are his rows and bust ups with former wife, Amber Heard, and unpleasant fights with his former partner, actress, Vanessa Paradis, with whom he shares children. A massive counter defamation trial is currently being played out in a Virginia court between Heard and Depp which runs into millions of dollars. It’s a sordid affair and the revelations are pretty unpleasant to hear. If only these rich and entitled Hollywood folk could play nicely and settle out of court so that both could operate with dignity on the global stage and resume their careers with reputations intact.

Oh, Harry

As the Queen recently celebrated her 96th birthday, the celebrations were marred by grandson Harry who recklessly delivered another bombshell interview to an American TV station. Not a day seems to go by when Harry and Meghan aren’t willfully causing the British Royal family embarrassment and pain. Now formidable writer and socialite, Tina Brown, has penned a tome entitled, The Palace Papers, and no doubt it won’t make for comfortable reading given the early excerpts released. Now that the British Royal family is unravelling at speed, there seems to be only one solution. Harry and Meghan have to be cut off completely, titles stripped from them, and both left to paddle their own luxury canoe in far off US waters. And fast.

Packed!

It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, Soller town was like a lunar landscape. During the height of the pandemic when forays out of the house were restricted to food shops and pharmacy visits, you could have heard a pin drop in the main plaça. I remember feeling that I was in a Bond movie as I navigated police and Guardia roadblocks and had to show receipts from food stores if stopped by the local police. You would be fined instantly if shown to have left the house just for some air and I often slipped through alleyways and back streets to avoid detection when on foot. One day I was going stir crazy stuck at home so walked into town in my mask to get a prescription for my husband. I was stopped by local police demanding to know why I had dared to walk rather than drive to town. I explained that my husband needed the car in case of emergency and I was buying his meds. I produced his health card and they suddenly became solicitous and kind. Both accompanied me to the chemist and wished me well.

Now in Soller you cannot move for visitors. The cafés are bursting with life, the shops are full and the roads are groaning with traffic. It’s good to see life back and now masks are no longer required instore. It’s been wonderful to have spontaneous meetings with readers too who kindly stop to tell me they’ve enjoyed my books about life in Majorca. Let’s pray that this is the way forward, that we will no longer be required to mask up and be vaccinated again. I’m a realist but a girl can still dream.

All of the Mallorca based crime novels & travel books by Anna Nicholas, are available from Come In, La Savina & Llibres Colom in Palma, Alameda gift shop in Soller, Atelier in Fornalutx & also at all good UK bookshops & via amazon.