A fun mystery in an appealing setting…
As I’ve mentioned on this blog a time or two, I’m a sucker for mysteries set in France, so I was thrilled to receive an advance review copy of Susan C Shea’s Murder Visits a French Village. And I liked it a lot.
As the story opens, Ariel Shepard’s husband, Dan, has just passed away. And, she finds out, unbeknownst to her, he had recently purchased the run-down French chateau they had visited on their honeymoon, intending to have it refurbished as a surprise present. Due to inheritance squabbles, though, Ariel ends up “land-poor” – with the chateau, their New York apartment, and not much else. Something has to change, and Ariel, who learned French at university, picks the French countryside over New York. So she sells the apartment to fund the refurbishment of the chateau, with an eye towards setting up as a bed-and-breakfast once the renovations are complete.
From here, we follow along as Ariel discovers that: (1) inheritance law in France is even more complicated than in the US, (2) French contractors don’t show up any more reliably than American contractors, (3) houses are money pits but chateaux are even bigger money pits, (4) a command of academic French may not be of much use when trying to deal with said contractors, and (5) good friends are worth their weight in gold, wherever you are. And luckily for Ariel, when the charming French professor who is researching the history of her chateau is found dead in its moat, her newfound friends have skills and connections when it comes to solving murders.
As it turned out, the mystery was pretty easy to figure out, and I knew pretty much what had happened early on, although I hadn’t figured out all of the precise details. But the rest of the story was fun enough (wine and cheese, please!) that I didn’t care, and I still really enjoyed Murder Visits a French Village. Please keep in mind that since I try to limit “star-flation” a bit, my four-star review is a solid recommendation to read this book. And finally, my thanks to the publishers, Severn House, and to NetGalley for the review copy.