by Jean-Luc Bannalec
Series: Brittany Mystery #3
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
The old salt farmers have always said that the violet scent of the Fleur de Sel at harvest time on the salt marshes of the Guérande Peninsula has been known to cause hallucinations. Commissaire Dupin also starts to believe this when he’s attacked out of the blue in the salt works.
He had actually been looking forward to escaping his endless paperwork and taking a trip to the “white country” between the raging Atlantic Ocean and idyllic rivers. But when he starts snooping around mysterious barrels on behalf of Lilou Breval, a journalist friend, he finds himself unexpectedly under attack. The offender remains a mystery, and a short time later, Breval disappears without a trace. It is thanks to his secretary Nolwenn and the ambition of the prefect that Dupin is assigned to the case. But he won’t be working alone because Sylvaine Rose is the investigator responsible for the department—and she lives up to her name….
What’s going on in the salt works? Dupin and Rose search feverishly for clues and stumble upon false alibis, massive conflicts of interest, personal feuds—and ancient Breton legends.
If Bannalec hadn’t been able to hack it as a mystery author, he’d have had a great career in tourism; he sells me on Brittany every time I read one of his books. Brittany springs to life off the page.
This can also be a hinderance; too much of it bogs the story down and there are spots of too much in this book. The start, where he’s setting the scene in the salt gardens, almost killed the story’s momentum before it could ever get started. I mean, yeah, it was beautiful and descriptive, but it dragged. I deducted 1/2 star for the moments like this that happened throughout the book.
Once the story got going though, and the bodies started dropping, the pace picked up dramatically, so that by the end it was as edge-of-your-seat as traditional mysteries get. I like Dupin, too, although he comes across a bit off-foot in this one, as I think he’s meant to, as he has to work with a female detective that’s as take charge as he is.
There are at least 5 more books in this series to look forward to, and it’s a series I think I’d eventually like to own. They’re not the binging kind, but quite enjoyable once or twice a year – especially if you’re in the mood for a mental holiday-on-the-page.
I read this for Halloween Bingo 2022’s Death in Translation square. Originally written in German and translated into English. It could also work for Terror in a Small Town, and, of course, Genre: Mystery.