Capt. Paul Darac’s second recorded case begins with an elderly woman found dead in her hot tub and then gets into deeper and deeper waters.
At 71, seamstress Jeanne Mesnel still enjoyed everything Nice had to offer—the weather, the wine, her house in the Chemin Leuze, the occasional skinny dip in her hot tub accompanied by the jazz recordings she loved—right up to the day, perhaps even the moment, she died. Although the Police Judicaire are called to the scene almost immediately, it seems clear she drowned accidentally. Clear but wrong, Darac (Impure Blood, 2016) gradually realizes. Suspicion is divided among Cristelle Daviot, the prostitute granddaughter who believed she’d inherit the estate; Taylor Walters-Halberg, the stunning American art curator who now actually has title to Jeanne Mesnel’s house; and Marcel Battail, the neighboring tattoo artist who’d unwisely threatened to drown Mme. Mesnel because not everybody likes jazz. One person who does like it, however, is Darac, and he swiftly bonds with the dead woman over their shared passion—a bond that will lead him in new directions and reveal new suspects, not counting the ones he and Lt. Intern Christian Malraux improvidently sleep with. There’ll be more murders, more revelations of past crimes, more romantic entanglements, and several false or incomplete solutions before Darac finally faces the inevitable conclusion to his labors: the moment when a sympathetic colleague asks him, “You’re not very good at women just now, are you?”
Lacking the political overtones of Morfoot’s terrorist-tinged fiction debut, this more strictly domestic case seems overlong, more padded, fussier, smacking of much ado about nothing until the author detonates a string of fireworks at its tail.