The rural beauty of Provence masks layers of deception and intrigue.
Police captain Roger Blanc, abruptly exiled from Paris, has made some headway with the stubborn provincials in his new district (Murderous Mistral, 2017), but their obstinacy is slow to dissipate. When an escaped bull gores a man to death in the Camargue, a rugged region in Blanc’s new bailiwick, he’s called to investigate. Blanc’s suspicion that he faces a case of murder comes up against local skepticism. Even his partner, Marius Tonon, believes the death was an accident. The bull’s breeder, Aurélien Ferréol, insists that the gate to the meadow where the bull was kept was always locked. The victim, Albert Cohen, was a high-profile journalist and TV pundit with a history of cocaine abuse. At the time of his death, Cohen, who already had many enemies, was working on an especially scandalous new story. Blanc’s investigation proceeds slowly, the better to spar verbally with intransigent locals and disdainful acquaintances of the victim. A break in the case comes via a “bicycle bullfighter.” His speculations take Blanc away from his initial theory of the crime, revenge for Cohen’s published work, and introduce a new array of suspects. He encounters shaky alibis, nasty collectors, and jealous scholars before cracking the case.
The leisurely journey to the solution of Rademacher’s second Provence whodunit is adorned with droll characterizations, pungent dialogue, and zingy chapter titles.