When theft escalates to murder at a French vineyard, a crime wave sweeps over the tranquil town of Aix-en-Provence
Provençal Mystery Series #3
Winery owner Olivier Bonnard is devastated when he discovers that a priceless cache of rare vintages has been stolen from his private cellar. Soon after, Monsieur Gilles d’Arras arrives at Aix-en-Provence’s Palais de Justice to report another mysterious disappearance: his wife, Pauline, has vanished from their lavish apartment. Madame has always been as tough as nails, but in recent weeks she’s been wandering around town in her slippers, crying for no reason.
As the mistral arrives to temper the region’s late-summer heat, Commissioner Paulik receives an urgent call from Bonnard: he’s just found Pauline d’Arras—dead in his vineyard. Verlaque and Bonnet are once again investigating, in what will prove to be their most complicated case yet.
Fans of Donna Leon and Andrea Camilleri, Francophiles, and foodies alike will adore this captivating whodunit. In her riveting follow-up to Death at the Chateau Bremont and Murder in the Rue Dumas, M. L. Longworth masterfully evokes the sights, sounds, and tastes of late-summer Provence, where the mistral blows and death springs up in the most unexpected places.
“Judge Antoine Verlaque, the sleuth in this civilized series, discharges his professional duties with discretion. But we’re here to taste the wines. So many bottles, so many lovely views. A reader might be forgiven for feeling woozy.” —The New York Times Book Review
Longworth throws a variety of puzzles at investigating magistrate Antoine Verlaque and his significant other, law professor Marine Bonnet, in their enjoyable third outing (after 2012's Murder in the Rue Dumas). A few hours after Pauline d'Arras an older woman who may be displaying the onset of Alzheimer's disappears, her frantic husband shows up at police headquarters in Aix-en-Provence. In addition, an inventory of an always-locked wine cellar, part of a winery where a police official's wife works, reveals that someone has been looting the cellar of its most precious contents. Finally, a 28-year-old bank employee, Suzanne Montmory, is raped and severely beaten. Two of the mysteries end up involving murder, and it falls to Verlaque and Bonnet to track down the killer or killers responsible. The solutions are less interesting than the byplay between the leads, but the book's real strength is its evocation of place.