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BLOWBACK by Peter May Kirkus Star


by Peter May

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59058-841-3
Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Mon dieu! Someone has killed the Great Chef of Europe.

Gendarme Dominique Chazal is called out on a wet winter night in 2003 to examine the body of Marc Fraysse, a bullet hole clearly visible in the middle of his forehead. Fraysse had called a press conference to make an important announcement, but not even his brother and business partner Guy, grieving near the body, knows the content of that announcement, though he does volunteer that Marc had been depressed lately at the prospect of losing one of his three cherished Michelin stars. Dominique declares Marc's Chez Fraysse, in a rustic region of central France, a crime scene. The investigation languishes for seven years until the idiosyncratic Enzo Macleod steps in to solve his fifth cold case (Freeze Frame, 2010, etc.) and Dominique admits that he is her last hope. Enzo travels to the rugged volcanic plain where Chez Fraysse stands to interview potential suspects. He begins with Marc's imperious widow Elisabeth, who may be too cozy with her brother-in-law, a johnny-come-lately to Marc's business; ambitious, stoic chef Georges Crozes, who worked directly under his friend Marc and succeeded him as Head Chef at Chez Fraysse; and his wife Anne, whom everyone believes was having an affair with Marc. Enzo's solution depends on unraveling a coded message, reading parts of Marc's diary and bantering with his effervescent daughter Sophie.

May's flair for narrative, characterization and evocative descriptions of various locales and historic tidbits makes his formulaic whodunit fresh and delightfully readable—catnip for armchair sleuths.