Sequel to Bogner’s ghoulish serial-killer special, To Die in Provence (1998).
Commander Michel Danton of the Judicial Police, son of the owners of Chez Danton, the finest restaurant in Aix-en-Provence, still works only the most difficult cases. Now, though, marrying art professor Jennifer Bowen, he will, at his bride’s request, set aside his visionary gift for solving murders, something he feels he was born for. But before Michel can find his replacement, a naked, partially decomposed young girl, her breast pierced and body blowtorched, washes ashore on a hotel beach at nearby Beau Rivage—and just at the hors d’oeuvres hour! What will tourists think? And whose beach is it? Claude Boisser’s, of course, the former vice squad superintendent whom Michel got fired for corruption. So Claude has to call Michel to help clear up this horror. The story hereafter wavers and waggles between the inspired and the utterly vulgar. The dead 13-year-old, an American from California, had been kidnapped by, and was the victim of, Garrett Lee Brant, whose name echoes that of his fellow foundling, serial killer Darrell Vernon Boynton of the earlier novel. Brant, a painter turned tattooist, stems from the inspired side of Bogner’s mind, being a combo of the three faces of Eve, Norman Bates, and Paul Gauguin. He certainly thinks himself more visionary than Gauguin, even when tattooing a tiny butterfly over a clitoris (which may be his own). Heavy research gives Bogner a ravishing background in the pedantry of tattooing, especially when the deadliest artist turns to creating the Garden of Eden in Boschian detail on Caroline’s back, a work of art that really ought to be removed and preserved for eternity.
The vulgarity springs from Bogner’s overblown sexual detail wrapped up in implausible dialogue. Some will be put off early on. Others will be in for a surprise that’s stunning enough to justify earlier excess.