COQ AU VIN by Charlotte Carter


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Nanette Hayes’s mother is practically in tears. She’s had a couple of cryptic distress signals from Nanette’s Aunt Viv in Paris, and she knows the secret inheritance of $10,000 she’s never turned over to her despised sister-in-law could be a lifesaver. Is there any way Nan could take a week off from her teaching job and fly over to the City of Light to look for her raffish aunt? You bet there is, says Nan, whose —teaching job— is a myth designed to keep her mother purring, and who knows the anonymous crowds she blows the sax for on Big Apple streets won’t miss her for a week. So Nan, fortified by gallons of in-flight Veuve Clicquot and drunk with the romantic possibilities of a city she hasn’t seen since she was a girl, settles down in Vivian Hayes’s dingy hotel and begins her search. It takes much less than a week for her to realize that she’s got about as much chance of finding her walkabout aunt as finding the adorable little bistros she dined in the last time she saw Paris. Luckily, she’s taken in hand by Andre, a fine mulatto street-violinist from Detroit, who fills up the hours she’s not finding Aunt Viv with diverse cultural experiences, etc. Everything’s going swimmingly—Nan’s made contact with a promisingly grungy gangster who’s been questioned in the recent death of another American woman, she’s tied Vivian into a 20-year-old murder, she’s getting some great meals and sex—until the last thirty pages, when Carter (Rhode Island Red, 1997) suddenly has the nerve to pretend she’s been plotting a mystery all along. Nan’s second case works less well as a whodunit than as a nostalgic tour of black Paris, and a salute to Black History Month.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 1999
ISBN: 0-89296-678-5
Page count: 240pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1998


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