The French writer´s debut and the first Séraphin Monge mystery. Sadly my cover is not as beautiful as the one I showed you the other day.
The first lines – which take place in1896:
“Monge was on his guard. It was one of those nights when you know you have to be on the alert in these parts if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises. It was a night when you hold your breath, when anything can happen.”
Apparently, Monge had good reason to be on his guard because what happens next is that we meet his orphaned son, Séraphin Monge, in 1919. The strong and handsome young man returns from the war to receive his inheritance. Séraphin learns that the three foreign murderers were all caught and guillotined – but is that really the end of the mystery? Hardly, as this takes place on page 31 of 240.
Séraphin makes it his mission in life to get to the bottom of the tragedy, determined to take revenge. His route to knowledge sinister and intriguing, but not exactly fast-paced. The sense of place near the Durance river is fine, and there are also glimpses of humour, e.g. when we hear about a father´s vain struggle to keep his beautiful daughter at home:
“… Rose was becoming hard to control. She was slipping through his fingers like wet soap. Her mother had given her a bicycle with the cheese money, and since then, Rose´s feet scarcely touched the ground. They had to trust her to do the right thing. She took two hours to get bread from Lurs and fetching her grandmother´s shopping in Peyruis took a whole afternoon.”
So all in all there are many things to like in this very different novel, but if you expect a traditional murder investigation or a fast-paced thriller, you will be disappointed.
My review of Death in the Truffle Wood.
Read for the Global Reading Challenge, Europe/France.