Hotel guests enjoy breathtaking views, fresh cuisine and murder on an island off Marseille.
Aix’s judge d’instruction Antoine Verlaque has many reasons for taking his longtime paramour, law professor Marine Bonnet, to the newly reopened Locanda Sordou. First and foremost, because he can. His family’s flour mill fortune has left him much better off than a typical examining magistrate, so if he wants to buy his friend’s wife a winery (Death in the Vines, 2013) or enjoy a week of luxury with his girlfriend, why not? Verlaque also wants to make peace with Marine’s best friend, Sylvie Grassi, if he can divert the photographer’s attention from downing mojitos and ogling boating instructor Hugo Sammut long enough. Once on Sordou, Verlaque finds other pleasures, not counting his twice-daily romps between the sheets with Martine. Retired schoolteacher Eric Monnier introduces the judge to Frank O’Hara’s poetry. American tourist Bill Hobbs catches tiny rougets, which chef Émile Villey transforms into a delectable ceviche. Housekeeper Madame Poux keeps his towels fluffed and his linens fresh. And novice waitress Marie-Thérèse introduces him to a unique style of wine tasting. Even watching aging movie star Alain Denis squabble with his young wife and her teenage son Brice is not without its amusements. Too bad a murder disrupts these burgeoning friendships, one that may spell disaster for hoteliers Maxime and Cat-Cat Le Bon.
Like Locanda Sordou, Longworth’s maritime version of a country-house cozy offers genuine pleasures, more for its location and cast of characters than for its puzzle.