Kirkus Reviews QR Code
RIDDLES IN PROVENCE by Jane E.M. Robinson

RIDDLES IN PROVENCE

By Jane E.M. Robinson

Pub Date: July 5th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1460974773
Publisher: CreateSpace

A woman in an unraveling marriage tries to solve her uncle’s murder.

When Michèle Trowel learns that her husband has been cheating, she leaves their home in Boston and returns to the place where she’s always felt most comfortable—her aunt and uncle’s house in her native Provence, France. Unfortunately, she arrives at the house just in time to see Uncle George’s body being wheeled out. At first it appeared as if his weak heart had finally given out, but by sheer chance the hospital discovers that someone had switched his heart medication with something lethal. When Aunt Suzanne reports that someone has stolen a document relating to George’s history as a member of the resistance during World War II, suspicion for the murder falls on an unknown Nazi collaborator who was responsible for the deaths of many members of George’s unit, and who would therefore go to great lengths to conceal his identity. Armed with only the sketchiest information, Michèle sets out to uncover the killer and, in the process, locks horns with the U.P., an ultra right-wing nationalist party currently ascendant in the region. Meanwhile, Michèle must deal with the situation that brought her to Provence in the first place—the dissolution of her marriage. With her well-crafted prose, Robinson masterfully invokes her setting and fills it with a varied cast of fully fleshed characters. Amid the romance and intrigue lies a compelling political dissertation, describing the current conflicts between the left and the right in France and skillfully connecting it to its roots in the turbulent days of the second World War. Her main character falls squarely on the left, so Robinson does an especially skillful job of skewering the far right (her blowhard fictional nationalist Le Plume sounds an awful lot like the real right-wing politician Jean-Marie Le Pen). But rarely does the book sound preachy, and the well-conceived plot is always in charge of the narrative.

A skillful blend of passion, mystery, politics and history, set in a perfectly rendered Provence.