French cheese, fine wine and… a mystifying murder?
A delightful afternoon stroll turns to disaster when the guests of an artists’ retreat in the French mountains spot the body of a man at the bottom of a cliff.
Amongst them is Melissa Craig who, binoculars at the ready, suddenly finds herself at the centre of a very puzzling mystery. Was it an accident, or was he pushed?
Her suspicions are confirmed when another body is found days later in almost exactly the same spot. It can’t be a coincidence; someone in this idyllic French village is up to no good, and it’s up to her to find out who.
Between the eccentric locals and mischievous guests, Melissa finds herself with no shortage of potential suspects: was it the surly handyman with a dark past, or perhaps the short-sighted widow with an excellent golf swing? But the real question is: how close to the edge will Melissa have to tread to find the culprit…?
The third book in the ‘Melissa Craig Mystery’ series, sees crime writer Melissa and her neighbour and friend Iris, artist and textile designer, leaving their Cotswold cottages for southern France. Iris is lending her services to her Philippe, her French entrepreneurial friend and Melissa who knows the region decides to do some research for her next novel.
Melissa and Iris’ relationship is tested as they live and work in close proximity, especially when Melissa questions Philippe’s motives. There are an interesting set of players; artists and those interested in the French way of life and particularly its language.
A tragic but seemingly accidental death causes disruption in the students’ ranks. When someone else dies, Melissa begins to suspect foul play. A keen but bumbling French Gendarme, makes Melissa think beyond the obvious explanations, and she finds herself in danger whilst searching for the truth.
This story reads well as a standalone, especially with the change of location but the threat to Melissa and Iris’previously harmonious relationship adds additional conflict to the plot and Melissa finds she misses having someone to bounce ideas off, and you really need to have read the previous novels to appreciate its effect on both women.
There are lots of suspects, an interesting backstory, that illuminates current events and a charismatic crime writer turned sleuth. Don’t expect twenty-first-century political correctness and attitudes, these mysteries take place in the late twentieth century and the storylines and characters’ reflect this.
The murders are gruesome, but the story’s ethos is gentle, as is expected in a cosy mystery. Definitely, something that will interest ‘Midsomer Murder’ fans and those who enjoy ‘Miss Marple’ and ‘Poirot’.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.