A rookie cop, a dash of mysterious death, and a heap of suspicion – as the heat rises, lethal tensions boil over in the Pyrenees.
Unappreciated, unnoticed, and passed over for promotion, thirty-year-old Danielle’s fledgling career in law enforcement is going nowhere – until the unexpected death of a hated Englishman turns her small town upside down.
Set in the idyllic south of France, Palm Trees in the Pyrenees is the first whodunit novel in Elly Grant’s thrilling murder mystery series. Against a background of prejudice, jealousy, and greed, Danielle pieces together the sparse clues of a fractured homicide. But will she find enough evidence to solve the case – and get the recognition she deserves?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Superficially, this story, the first book in the ‘Death In The Pyrenees’ series, seems like a cozy mystery, set in the South of France. It does have many of the attributes of a cozy read; multiple suspects, a dramatic murder, a small, close knit quirky community, but as the story progresses, the reader appreciates that the story is more than this.
The bullying, malicious gossip and prejudice, Danielle the town’s solitary police presence uncovers ,gives this story a strong noir element. Corruption, drugs and vice, are all themes alluded to, in this story, which is a hybrid between a murder mystery and a police procedural.
Written in the first person, from Danielle’s point of view, her compassion, dedication and naivety, help the reader to see what lies beneath, the friendly, safe ethos, the town projects. She is easy to like, and gives this story a unique perspective that engages the reader from the first page. There is a retro feeling to this story, where even though the problems are contemporary, the community and personal beliefs and motivations are not.
The plot is pacy, and the characters full of surprises. The mystery keeps most of its secrets until the final stages and the ending is well executed. An original murder mystery which keeps you reading happily until the last page.
Guest Post – Elly Grant – Palm Trees In The Pyrenees
When I first arrived in this region of the Eastern Pyrenees I was mesmerised. I had never seen an area that moved me so much. The mountains were magnificent, tree covered rocks with an impossible number of shades of green and dotted about them were luminous patches of bright yellow Mimosa giving the effect of a patchwork quilt. The sky was a deep turquoise and the lack of pollution meant everything seemed clean and fresh as if the scene had been newly painted. It was hard to believe that what I was seeing was real and not just some beautiful dream I would wake from. Indeed, I was so enthralled, I was frightened to leave the place, in case, ‘Brigadoon’ style, it would disappear, not to be seen again for 100 years. Consequently, together with my husband, Zach Abrams, and within a few days, we managed to locate and buy a small, low-priced property to enjoy as a holiday home. After that, it took only days before I had the idea of writing ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’. As I walked through the small town or sat sipping wine in the sunshine outside one of the several cafes or bars, the story almost seemed to write itself. As I imagine is the case in any small town, there was much that was different from anything I’d experienced before. I observed the quirky way of life enjoyed by its inhabitants, and the many, sometimes unusual, local events. Who would have guessed that an artichoke festival would be so well attended? Not me, for sure. Then there were the family feuds, the jealousies, the prejudices, the slight mistrust of strangers. I sipped wine or drank coffee as my victims walked by, totally unaware that I was about to kill them on paper.
Being a small town nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, it came as no surprise to me that nobody seemed to speak English, and, having only a few words of French, meant that I had to learn the language quickly if I wanted to interact with local people. Consequently, the first people I had conversations with were the handful of ex-pats who lived in the area. But gradually, and with much effort on my part to integrate, I am now accepted as of the town, no longer merely a tourist, but not quite a local. Quite surprisingly, more and more of the locals will now speak to me in English if I have difficulty communicating in French. It seems that many of them do have the ability to converse in another language but choose not to do so with tourists. After all, they reason, it is the tourists who are the visitors and therefore it is they who should make the effort. The locals are not unfriendly, quite the reverse in fact; it is simply a matter of respect. And, as I’ve discovered, once you do gain their trust, they will go to great lengths to help or assist you.
After ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ was published, the subsequent books of the series seemed to pour out of me. I felt I couldn’t write them quickly enough. There was so much going on in my little town, so many things to observe that writing was a joy. I suppose that may seem rather strange considering I mostly write about crime, and not just any crime, but death and murder, in fact. But I do feel that this series is not all doom and gloom. My publisher calls these books ‘cosy crime’. I still kill people, but hopefully there is enough charm in the story telling so as not to cause my readers sleepless nights.
Hi, my name is Elly Grant
and I like to kill people. I use a variety of methods. Some I drop from a great
height, others I drown, but I’ve nothing against suffocation, poisoning or
simply battering a person to death. As long as it grabs my reader’s attention,
I’ve written several novels and short stories. My first novel, ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ is set in a small town in France. It is the first book of my ‘Death in the Pyrenees series and they are all published by Creativia. The others in the series are, ‘Grass Grows in the Pyrenees’, ’Red Light in the Pyrenees’, ’Dead End in the Pyrenees’, ‘Deadly Degrees in the Pyrenees’ and ‘Hanging Around in the Pyrenees’. Creativia has also published my grittier crime novels set in Glasgow, ‘The Unravelling of Thomas Malone’ and ‘The Coming of the Lord’ as well as my thriller, ‘Death at Presley Park’. Also published are my Romance ‘Never Ever Leave Me, as well as a collaboration on the quirky black comedy ‘But Billy Can’t Fly’ and short stories called ‘Twists and Turns’.
As I live much of the year in a small French town in the Eastern Pyrenees, I get inspiration from the way of life and the colourful characters I come across. I don’t have to search very hard to find things to write about and living in the most prolific wine producing region in France makes the task so much more delightful.
When I first arrived in this region I was lulled by the gentle pace of life, the friendliness of the people and the simple charm of the place. But dig below the surface and, like people and places the world over, the truth begins to emerge. Petty squabbles, prejudice, jealousy and greed are all there waiting to be discovered. Oh, and what joy in that discovery. So, as I sit in a café, or stroll by the riverside, or walk high into the mountains in the sunshine, I greet everyone I meet with a smile and a ‘Bonjour’ and, being a friendly place, they return the greeting. I people-watch as I sip my wine or when I go to buy my baguette. I discover quirkiness and quaintness around every corner. I try to imagine whether the subjects of my scrutiny are nice or nasty and, once I’ve decided, some of those unsuspecting people, a very select few, I kill.
Perhaps you will visit my town one day. Perhaps you will sit near me in a café or return my smile as I walk past you in the street. Perhaps you will hold my interest for a while, and maybe, just maybe, you will be my next victim. But don’t concern yourself too much, because, at least for the time being, I always manage to confine my murderous ways to paper.
Read books from the ‘Death in the Pyrenees’ series, enter my small French town and meet some of the people who live there —– and die there.
Alternatively read about life on some of the hardened streets of Glasgow or for something different try my other books and short stories.