A dead husband with a secret life is always a winner (fictionally speaking, of course), but what about a secret past for a special treat? In fact, a past so secret even Harry the husband didn't know about it. That’s the delicious underpinning of this sprawling, exuberant, generous-spirited cozy mystery with a yummy side of international adventure.
It might be sadder except that once Harry dies, his widow, Merle Bennett realizes almost immediately it was no wonder she didn't know anything about him. They’d pretty much been leading separate lives—several of them, as it turns out. Still, the will’s quite a shock. And so is an intriguing surprise—Harry left her a family home in a tiny French village. Or maybe a family home. Because who was Harry’s family? Finding out is half the fun.
Merle sets out to claim her inheritance, adolescent son in tow, and thus begins a sojourn reminiscent of A Year in Provence, or perhaps Under The Tuscan Sun all mixed up with something by Carolyn Hart, maybe, or M.C. Beaton. Because Malcouziac, Merle’s tiny Dordogne town, is the quintessential village—just perfect for a murder. And a rollicking good time.
Once Merle gets there, she finds…well, France! An unexpected romance! Mystery galore! Murder! And not just murder, but the unnerving experience of being a suspect. Once her passport is confiscated, what can she do but stay and restore her ancient battered house? While enjoying the tender attention of the unusually well-educated, handsome and…yes, quite mysterious roofer she’s hired.
Author McClendon doesn't take a whole lot very seriously, being clearly more interested in Merle’s journey than in emulating Agatha Christie. And that works out beautifully for the reader. Particularly recommended for those who love France or have plans to visit there. Mystery lovers, chick lit fans, and cozy fanatics will all find it très chouette— more prosaically, simply awesome. Not to mention formidable!
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