Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier (The Grave Gourmet, 2010) divides her time between her Twentieth-Arrondissement district and her ancestral country home.
Being a countess is no job for a Paris police commissioner. Just when a waiflike con artist dubbed “La Belle au Marchais” by an increasingly critical press swipes increasingly valuable objets-d’art from the softhearted intellectuals who offer her shelter, Oncle Aymerie summons his wayward royal niece to a gathering at the family chateau at Maulévrier. After all, there are pheasants to be shot, Calvados to be drunk and waggish advances from her Cousin Jacques to fend off. So she piles her reluctant husband Alexandre into her police-issue Clio and off they head for the countryside. Food critic Alexandre is a miserable shot, although not so miserable as poor Philippe Gerlier, who died the week before of an errant shot to the chest. Such accidents are common in the country, Capitaine Dallemagne of the local gendarmerie assures her, but Capucine is skeptical. She sends one of her brigadiers, North African-born Momo Benarouche, undercover to the Elevage Vienneau, the cattle farm where Gerlier worked. Meanwhile, her other brigadiers, Isabelle Lemercier and David Martineau, hunt La Belle. (Avoiding obvious strategies, like seeing where the stolen rarities might be fenced, they spend most of their time interviewing victims.) As Alexandre’s appetite for wild mushrooms and game birds blossoms, more corpses litter the bucolic landscape, and Capucine despairs of ever solving any case, urban or rural.
Arch dialogue and lax detection make Campion’s second just a routine countryside romp.