The solution of the mystery is the only disappointment in this absorbing, very Gallic drama of family secrets, weary revenge, and thwarted passions--set in the cosy village of Moulins, where aged ex-gendarme Maurice Ygrec and his beloved pooch, Mademoiselle Larme, are staying with dear Inspector and Mme. Michelin. Ygrec's favorite visitor there is lovely 16-year-old Pippa, whose crusty grandpa Lucien is a Resistance hero--and the sole comfort of the old Couronne sisters, noblewomen now impoverished. When the older sister dies, Lucien helps mad, sister Ghislaine hide the body (a problematic estate), but the deceptions don't end there: he finds himself drawn further and further into Ghislaine's nightmare world, especially after his beloved Pippa is found murdered. More deaths follow--some involved with a petty local drug ring--but the focus here is on personality, pathetic or noble or simply all too human, and Rippon's characters, even the canine ones, will leave few readers unmoved.