Death at the Chateau Bremont: A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery
By M. L. Longworth
Penguin, 2011, 320 pages. Mystery
Étienne de Bremont is found dead beneath a window at his country Chateau, unsettling the city of Aix-en-Provence where the count was well loved and respected. The death has all the appearance of an accident, but to those who knew the nobleman the circumstances become increasingly mysterious. How could Etienne, a natural athlete from boyhood, have stumbled out of a window he knew so well? Verlaque, a seductive, dark-eyed judge, and Marine Bonnet, an elegant law professor, investigate these curious inconsistencies and slowly get drawn into the case. Readers not only get a suspenseful mystery, but also a romance, and a rich, luxuriously evoked setting.
To me, this novel is barely about the mystery: it is about Provence. One almost gets the feeling that the mystery was simply an excuse for Longworth to write about her love affair with France; and what a literary and beautiful affair it is. The book is steeped in atmospheric French cafes, vintage wines, and fine cuisine; perfect for anyone who loves Provence or desperately desires to visit. I suggest pairing it with whatever French music you have (or the French Café station on Pandora) and finishing it on a cozy chair all in one sitting. Fortunately for anyone else who may fall in love with Verlaque, Bonnet, and the Aixois, the second book in the series was just published: Murder on the Rue Dumas. Highly Recommended.