Criminal misdeeds turn out to be just as devious in charming Provence as in the mean streets of Paris.
Shortly after exposing government corruption, Parisian police captain Roger Blanc is summoned by the minister of state and transferred to the south of France, effective immediately. Fortunately, Blanc inherited a house in Provence from his uncle a decade ago. The house is dilapidated, the local gendarmerie not much better. Blanc’s new boss, Commandant Nicolas Nkoulou, is obsessed with tidiness and regulations, and his new partner, Marius Tonon, is mostly interested in chatting and maintaining his connections to the community. Also on the police staff is attractive tech expert Fabienne Souillard, with whom the divorced Blanc has an undeniable chemistry. Their first case together revolves around a corpse found near a garbage dump, burned and still smoking. Evidence suggests to Tonon that the victim is Charles Moréas, a member of a notorious gang responsible for a spate of highway robberies and a target of police for years. In their meticulous probe, Blanc and Tonon talk to a skeptical judge, a droll German painter who lived next door to Moréas, and the slick mayor, who wants nothing to overshadow the public relations rollout of an upcoming event. Solid leads are few and far between, though there is no dearth of suspects or, for that matter, shady behavior in paradise. When a prime suspect dies in a suspicious boating accident, who can doubt that the cases are connected?
Rademacher (The Wolf Children, 2017, etc.) writes with quiet authority, methodically filling in pieces of the puzzle and laying a solid foundation for further clever whodunits with a strong supporting cast.