A chef’s plan to expand his restaurant ignites a furor in a wealthy quarter of Aix-en-Provence.
Married at last, examining magistrate Antoine Verlaque and law professor Marine Bonnet (The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne, 2015, etc.) still maintain two apartments: Antoine’s near the Palais de Justice and Marine’s in the posh Mazarin. But Marine’s tranquil flat has become the center of a storm ever since Bear Valets announced a plan to introduce outdoor seating in the courtyard of La Fontaine, his upscale eatery. Although Valets plans to seat only five parties outdoors and promises not to play music, the neighbors who share that courtyard envision noise and disruption. While the Association Historique Aixoise discusses how to thwart the chef’s plan, Valets starts to dig a garden only to find a body buried at the foot of the courtyard’s fountain in the same spot where a peasant was once executed for failing to salute the king. Verlaque, charged with investigating, learns that the body probably dates back about eight years to the time when the black-sheep son of a local count disappeared. Soon the furor over the restaurant expansion blows up on its own as Verlaque discovers monarchist plots, human trafficking, and drug sales all cascading from a fountain the locals view as cursed.
Longworth confirms her long-standing lovebirds as Aix’s Nick and Nora; their pursuit of miscreants never interferes with their enjoyment of the good life.