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by M. L. Longworth

Pub Date: July 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-14-311952-4
Publisher: Penguin

The death of a cash-poor count offers problems and opportunities for an examining magistrate in Provence.

Aix has grown since the TGV high-speed rail line made the town more accessible. Rents have increased, and trendy shops line the cours Mirabeau in the center of town. But townspeople still greet each other with friendly bises on each cheek when they meet in one of the town’s innumerable cafes. Aixoises love their cafes, none more than Marine Bonnet, who calls Le Mazarin her office, since her law school offers on-campus space only to the most senior professors. It’s on Le Mazarin’s terrace that she and best friend Sylvie console each other over their affairs, most recently Marine’s breakup with Antoine Verlaque. Not exactly handsome, and certainly not kind, Antoine still haunts Marine’s dreams even when she lies in the arms of her young lover Arthur. So Marine has big butterflies in her stomach as she climbs the stairs to juge d’instruction Verlaque’s apartment to help him in his latest case: the death of Étienne de Bremont, who supposedly fell from the window of his family’s chateau. Marine, a childhood friend of Etienne and his brother François, confirms that a fall by the sure-footed young count is unlikely. But why should the good brother, who worked hard as a filmmaker to support his large family, be lying dead in Saint-Antonin while François runs up gambling debts and plays polo with Russian mobsters on the Côte d’Azur? Verlaque and Bonnet want answers—but is that all they want?

A promising debut for Longworth, who shows there’s more to France than Paris and more to mystery than Maigret.