by M.L. Longworth
Series: Verlaque and Bonnet Provencal Mystery #7
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Crime
A departure from the format of the first 6 mysteries, I had doubts at first (as always), but it’s possibly one of the best in the series.
Longworth tells this story from two angles, a few months apart. One is set over a dinner in NYC, between an editor and a world famous, Nobel-level author, ostensibly discussing the possibility of the great man’s newest book, a memoir. But over dinner, at the editor’s prompting, he tells the story of events that took place 3 months previously, in France. The second angle is set 3 months back in time, focussing on Verlaque, Bonnet and Paulik as they find themselves in the middle of events as they unfolded.
The events surrounding the author’s purchase of the Bastide Blanche are the culmination of several past events and include haunting, gaslighting, kidnapping, and a missing woman. Verlaque and Bonnet each delve into different parts of the house’s – and the author’s – histories to try to untangle the mess of events.
Longworth created a story to get lost in; one of those where I should probably have liked some of the characters a lot less than I did. It was well plotted, bringing an end that even though it was foreshadowed early on, was both unexpected and tragic for almost everyone. My only complaint was a sketchy resolution concerning the house’s history; the reader gets enough to fill in the broad strokes, but I’d have liked to have known how much of the legend was real: was anyone buried in the basement? (not a spoiler, btw) But I did particularly like the ending, the editor’s advice to the author; yes, there was a mercenary aspect to it, but truth, redemption and justice won too.
An excellent traditional mystery series that isn’t anything like cute and fluffy, but rather intelligent and well-written, and one that seems to be getting better as it goes.