Wednesday, July 22, 2015

DEATH IN BRITTANY by Jean-Luc Bannalec

             Since a vacation in Brittany isn’t on my calendar for this summer what pleasure to meet Commissaire Georges Dupin who describes the country so beautifully that I can feel the sea air and smell the steak frites.  Granted, Dupin is a rather cantankerous but likable fellow who prefers to spend his morning enjoying a croissant and coffee rather than being disturbed by such mundane matters as murder.

Nonetheless, a killing has occurred in the small village of Pont-Aven, a delightful community by the sea where everyone knows one another.  And, surprisingly the deceased is a ninety-one-year-old hotel owner, Pierre Louis Pennec, who has spent his life seeing to the Central Hotel.  This is a double shock for the locals since not only was Pennec a supposedly beloved figure but it’s the height of the tourist season and murder is definitely not good for business.  Pont-Aven is known for having hosted Gauguin and his followers hence the village is awash in shops selling paintings to the visiting tourists.

As it turns out Pennec whose family had a remarkable collection of art by painters who visited Pont-Aven was terminally ill.  Again the question - why murder?  His son, Loic, and his half-brother, Andre, would certainly like to know as would the local art society.  However, there is no rushing Dupin who is both determined and cautious in getting to the bottom of the mystery, which gives us the opportunity to enjoy his questioning of Pennec’s no longer young female employees.

Death In Brittany was first published in Germany where it enjoyed great success and time on the bestseller list.  We’re betting it will receive a similar warm welcome here.


- Gail Cooke

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