- File Size: 533 KB
- Print Length: 183 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing (December 6, 2015)
- Publication Date: December 6, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0191Z0BF8
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,292 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Messandrierre Kindle Edition
|Length: 183 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
We don't learn much about the incident that made him leave the city, but there's no need to. Forêt desperately wishes to leave the past where it was, and that's the way it should be.
But even if not much ever happens in Messandrierre, something seems to be wrong as young people suddenly start to vanish. Forêt, starts investigating the disappearance of a young man and before he knows it, he has 5 or 6 more missing people in his hands. And they might turn out to be dead people. Add to this that one of the suspects is the woman he loves and you have a great thriller in your hands.
There are many twists and turns before the book ends and we discover the killer. The author keeps us guessing throughout the book what is going to happen next.
If, like me, you are a fan of great detective stories, do yourself a favor and pick up this book, it's that good!
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review
Not unlike Armand Gamache, we meet police officer Jacques Forêt, after some crisis. Something happened while he was working in Paris, he was wounded, plus he recently lost his mother. So he is now down South in Les Cévennes, trying to recover, working in a much quieter environment, this small village of Messandrierre. You’ve got the usual stuff of disputes about property lines (this is a must in small French villages, believe my own experience!), between farmers, and the occasional driver not renewing his car tax.
But when tourists start getting missing, things get not as rosy. And the villagers suddenly seem to have too many secrets for comfort (again, like the inhabitants of Three Pines). It does not make his investigation easy.
To complicate Jacques’s life, a former close relationship, Beth, comes back to the village without even informing him. She is nervous and seems also to hide too many things: wasn’t she the last person to talk to one of the tourists who disappeared? And what really happened to her husband who died recently? Could there be a face of Beth’s Jacques had not known about?
I really enjoyed the village setting, so well evoked, with its inhabitants and relationships. There’s a superb passage on whispers and rumors in the village that perfectly illustrates that. And you have got the inevitable café, the hub of the place. The Fête de la Saint Jean reminded me of many wonderful parties, and village dancing.
The plot gets more and more complex, also with several flashbacks to different periods. I wondered many times what on earth could be the connection between all the different scenes, but was happily rewarded at the end. Some elements though are easy to guess. As soon as Beth received a gift, I wanted to scream to Beth: No, don’t eat that!! She really should have listened to me, lol!
The ambiance sometimes gets really creepy à la Rebecca, with almost unbearable suspense, and you can only start suspecting everyone in this village!
The characters are well defined and alive. I could identify several to people I knew in my village! Even restless cows!!
Jacques is quite lovable. He is a gentle soul, though wounded. Again like Gamache, there are some issues going on with his boss.
This evening, I realized with fright that I had almost caught up with Louise Penny’s series! But now, I know I will have another village series to follow: yes, rejoice, book 2 is in the making! I can’t wait to meet Jacques again, as well as Beth and the villagers. I also want to know more about what’s going on with Fournier, Jacques’s boss, who seems fishy. Could he be an ally to criminals?
“Do you know, Watson,” said he, “that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.”
“Good heavens!” I cried. “Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?”
“They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.” (from The Adventure of the Copper Beeches)
Detective Jacques Forêt left his investigative job in Paris to take up a post as gendarme, a regular policeman, in Messandriere, a rural village in the Cévennes region. He had hopes that this new, less high-powered assignment would help him heal from an injury and traumatic events in Paris (left shadowy) and bring him a measure of peace. Yet it is not working out this way. “Numbers Jacques“ (as he became known on the Paris force) cannot help noticing the mounting total of strange disappearances in this tiny village. Meeting with his associate Thibault Clergue for lunch, they chew over more than their plate of charcuterie:
“ 'That’s four disappearances in thirteen months, Thibault.' Deciding to leave the ham until last he took a mouthful of salami instead and chewed on it. 'That’s almost Paris statistics and this is a village a fraction of the size of the city.'
'Ah.' Clergue scraped his fork through a slice of rosette and stuffed it into his mouth. 'Numbers Jacques!'
The use of his old nickname from his time in the Judiciaire in Paris made him wince…"
Another thing that is making Jacques Forêt wince is the aloofness of his girlfriend, photographer Beth Samuels, who has just returned to Messandrierre but chose not to let him know herself. It seems they were very close during her last visit, but this time she is pulling away from him. She is overwhelmed with questions surrounding her deceased husband Dan’s curious business dealings and her own concerns about disposing of their property. She clearly still admires Jacques but doesn’t want to let herself resume their relationship–the very thing Jacques wants above all else.
Beth becomes embroiled in the string of disappearances when a couple of hiking tourists stop for the entire afternoon at her place, and then one of them, Rob Myers, fails to show up to meet his friend Will later that week. Beth is very concerned about Rob’s whereabouts but she is evasive when Jacques must question her in his capacity as Messandrierre’s gendarme.
" 'Did they say anything about where they were going?' Jacques noticed that her frown had returned and that she was twisting her wedding ring round and round her finger. He wondered why. Or, perhaps, they mentioned what their plans were?' Putting his notebook down he observed her as she formed her response. A moment later, when he recognized that she was avoiding his gaze, he prompted her gently. 'Anything they said could be helpful, Beth.'
'But that’s the point. Had I known that you would be here today asking me about them I would have paid more attention. But it was just chitchat, you know. They said something about working for the summer.' She looked at the floor."
Her reticence disturbs him, both professionally and personally: what could she be hiding? The investigation continues and before long, Beth is in real danger of becoming the next missing person. To me, Beth seems too trusting and takes too many chances; she might benefit from following the old maxim to be careful when talking to strangers!
Messandrierre works very well as a mystery/thriller. About 10% into the book, I caught myself having forgotten for a few moments that I was reading–surely a good sign–instead, I was completely caught up in the story and its very effective suspense. The author uses a lot of dramatic irony, in which the reader knows that one character or another is blithely hurtling into danger, and the dénouement is quite chilling. Sherlock Holmes was right about the “dreadful” crimes that can go unnoticed in the “smiling and beautiful countryside,” unless he and Watson–or Jacques Forêt–are on the case. I look forward eagerly to the next books in this new mystery series, but don't miss this opener!
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