Pierre Magnan, The Murdered House (1999)

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.

About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
This entry was posted in 2011 Global Reading Challenge, French, Pierre Magnan, review, review 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Pierre Magnan, The Murdered House (1999)

  1. I does sound like a wonderful book. Guillotines always scare me. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s from A Tale of Two Cities and The Nine Day Queen books I read as a child. Thanks for the review.

  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    Dorte – Thanks for this review :-). You’ve got me intrigued.. I like historical mysteries, and this one sounds as though readers get drawn into the time and place. I’m going to have look for this one….

  3. Barbara says:

    I like the title and the premise of the story sounds wonderful. It’s going on my looooong list.

  4. Sharon K Owen says:

    Another good book to add to my wish list. Your description of it intrigues me. Can’t wait to read it.


  5. Petty Witter says:

    You are right that this cover is no where near as nice as the one you showed previously.The thought of It not being a traditional murder investigation does not bother me too much but I confess I am a little worried when you say those expecting a fast paced thriller will be disappointed – just how slow is the action?

  6. Kelly says:

    This sounds a bit different for you. Intriguing, though!

  7. Sherrie says:

    Hi Dorte,
    Sounds intriguing. Off subject, I’ve finished The Global Reading Challenge. Didn’t see a link for a wrap up so came here. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  8. Clarissa: it is a very different book, but apart from the mention of guillotines, it is not that gory – sinister is more precise.
    Margot: yes, I´d say this is one you should read for the time & place, not for the detection.
    Barbara: I wonder if I should feel proud or guilty for tempting you 😉

  9. Sharon: nice to meet you! And if you like trying a different author, Magnon is the thing.
    Tracy: actually, the first crime has a lot of terrible consequences so it is not boring, but detection has not been Magnan´s focus.
    Kelly: I have tried to select books which are a bit different for the global challenge, and I have succeeded in that.
    Sherrie: congratulations! I know I never got to that wrap-up post, but I hope you have enjoyed the challenge without it.

  10. Patti Abbott says:

    This does sound good. I like the unexpected.

  11. kathy d. says:

    This review is actually reminding me to read Death in the Truffle Wood. I had put it on library reserve, but then I got a notice that it’s not available. I believe Amazon has used copies. I have heard a lot about Magnan and it’s time to try him out.

  12. Patti: then it should be your taste.
    Kathy: this one was good, but Death in the Truffle Wood was more charming.

  13. RJurisich says:

    I enjoyed the book, but I couldn’t figure out who the narrator was in the final chapter

  14. I’m afraid I don’t remember much about it any more. I do know that I enjoyed “Death in the Truffle Wood” more than this one, however.

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