SABINE by Nicolas Freeling


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Officer Henri Castang's latest investigation--his first full-fledged independent homicide inquiry--is marvelously set up and foreshadowed, as train-traveling Castang recalls his visits with Sabine Arthur, an elderly widow, poet, and woman of property who had gone to the police with vague complaints about mistreatment from her adopted son and daughter-in-law. However, when Sabine is found dead one morning (apparently the victim of ""a crapulous case of breaking and entering"") and Castang zeroes in on her village, things bog down excruciatingly: the tiny range of motives--all having to do with Sabine's valuable house and garden--is hashed over and over and over. True, Castang's interviews include ""village gossip from the village call girl"" and other vivid persons, a number of marvelous meals, and some sound psychology. But despite the funky vocabulary and the sometimes delectable turns of phrase (""But that [thought] was a straw, a dead leaf down his shirt""), this time once more with Freeling turns out to be something of a bore.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row