Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass: France

Our next stop on our Crime Fiction Europass vacation get-away is France. Currently, I am at the Hotel L'Aigle Royal in Le Bosquet. I am staying with Lizzie Thomas, housekeeper and detective sidekick to former Detective Inspector and fledgling private investigator, John Webber. We've flown to France to get the local scoop on a horrible "accident" that occurred here about year ago or so. A couple in their 50s-60s were strolling along the beach of this picaresque French resort town when the wife's dress suddenly went up in flames--moments later, the couple were dead. Their daughter, Jessica Elberg, only recently learned what details there are--and there aren't many--and is not satisfied with the verdict. That's where Lizzie and her employer come in. Webber is busy back in London, tracking down business rivals and family secrets, while Lizzie, with her excellent French, and I try find out the details that didn't make it into the official reports. Oh, and the name of our mystery? The Elberg Collection by Anthony Oliver.
The beach is lovely with smooth yellow sand and the blue-grey water beckons in a very tempting manner. It's a little chilly for a swim though. Our hotel is a bit modest when compared to the more fashionable establishments at the other end of the seafront, but very comfortable. It was listed in the Michelin guide as "Comfortable," and other guides told us that it has been owned and managed by the same family since it was built in 1904.
This is an engaging little mystery. I'm only about half-way through it and I like John Webber and Lizzie very much. I've met them before in Oliver's first mystery, The Pew Group, and this outing only confirms my fondness for the characters. I am a little disappointed with the pacing and the fact that I'm quite sure who the culprit is. I'd tell you who I think it is, but then if I'm right and I say so in my review, I'll have spoiled it for you. You'll just have to trust me to tell the truth if I'm wrong. :-)


J F Norris said...

I like the tour guide vibe in this review. Sounds like it could be an art mystery. Is it?

Death from the Woods is really very different. I was going to write it up a few months ago for Friday's Forgotten Books, but something else caught my attention instead. I set it aside to write about and this was the perfect opportuinty even if I only give Aubert a couple of sentences. The heroine has an extremely sarcastic sense of humor. I think it's a subversive kind of crime novel with the intent to satirize the whole idea of the amateur sleuth. How can you have a sleuth with basically no sensory capabilites who is stuck in a wheelchair that she herself cannot even move? I really enjoyed it and was impressed with the writer's imaginative powers in pulling off what seemed like a laughable idea. She won the coveted Grand Prix de Littérature Policière - the French equivalent of the Edgar - for that book. After you read it, I hope you review it on your blog. I'd be very interested to read your impressions.

Bev Hankins said...

John: Yes, the art world is involved. Very perceptive of you. The Elberg Collection of the title is a collection of priceless pottery. I just finished it this afternoon...and the review is up. Not sure when I'll get to Death in the Woods...too many challenge books and other TBRs ahead of it. But I will certainly review it when I do.