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Murder in Lascaux (A Nora Barnes and Toby Sandler Mystery) Hardcover – October 4, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“I found the world of this book a charmed one.”—Lynn C. Miller, author of Death of a Department Chair



“Art history (and prehistory), French food, wonderful descriptions of France’s lovely Perigord region, and a clever mystery to boot. What’s not to like? Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden have a wonderful knack of educating you painlessly—almost without your noticing—while you make your way through their twisty, witty plot.”—Aaron Elkins, Edgar-winning author of The Worst Thing



“A whodunit that nicely balances a breezily light travelogue with urgency and suspense. Readers will hope this is the first of a series.”—Publishers Weekly



“That the book feels like the seamless work of a single author is no coincidence; readers of Draine and Hinden’s first mystery will be both entertained and educated by what is clearly a shared passion for the Dordogne and its considerable charms.”—Capital Times



“Take a touch of prehistoric art, sprinkle in some delicious southern French cuisine, add a dash of World War II history and a dollop of murder, and you’ve got a mystery novel that’s appetizing, intriguing, and informative. . . . If you like murder mystery you can get your teeth into, give this one a try. Bon appétit!”—Mystery Scene



“Into the intricate plot the authors were able to weave Cro-Magnon art, a medieval religious sect, and Nazi intrigue, not to mention cooking lessons.”—Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

About the Author

Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden cowrote the memoir A Castle in the Backyard: The Dream of a House in France and translated and edited The Walnut Cookbook by Jean-Luc Toussaint. They are professors emeriti of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Nora Barnes and Toby Sandler Mystery
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299284204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299284206
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,469,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard B. Schwartz TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story: Nora Barnes (an American art historian) and her husband Toby (an antiques dealer) are visiting the Dordogne. Nora wants to study the life and work of a woman painter, whose family chateau now contains a culinary school. Nearby are the Lascaux cave and Lascaux II (the mockup cave for tourists which replicates many of the elements of the original, now closed to all but VIP's).

Nora has persuaded the authorities to allow her and her husband to participate in one of the 5-at-a-time tours of Lascaux. They are accompanied by another American couple and a mysterious Frenchman. Toward the end of the tour the cave is plunged into darkness. When the lights come back on, the Frenchman is found dead, the victim of a bloody garrotte. His body is posed in a tableau that mirrors one of the images in the cave, an image that appears to be rich in symbolism though that symbolism has never been satisfactorily explained.

As she takes her cooking classes and studies the work of the woman painter, Nora is drawn further and further into the murder case. She and her husband conduct their own investigation and later appear to be the target of the perpetrator's murderous intentions.

The authors' previous study of life in the Dordogne and the house which they purchased there has prepared them to write in depth concerning its topography, geography, demography, cuisine and ice age cave art. One key scene occurs in the Rouffignac cave, a deep cave that is accessed by a small train which travels between cave bear pits on one side and a serious dropoff on the other. In 1994 my wife and I were fortunate to have participated in a tour of the caves (including Rouffignac) and I can say that the authors' descriptions are dead-on accurate.
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Format: Hardcover
For a fanatic mystery reader like me, nothing is more exciting than an excellent new whodunit with the potential to be the first in a series. Draine and Hinden's detective story has everything that makes a mystery fun and exciting: appealing sleuths (a husband-and-wife team), a great setting in France, just enough history to make things really interesting but not too erudite, and--of course--a plot that keeps you guessing until the end. With well-developed secondary characters and yummy descriptions of French food on top of everything else, it all adds up to a wonderful read. I hope the authors are working on a second Nora-and-Toby mystery.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
LOVED this story! Because of an upcoming visit to the Dordogne France region I've been "due-diligence" reading for stories with this region as a setting. I'd read these authors' first book, A Castle in the Backyard: The Dream of a House in France and was thrilled to find their Murder in Lascaux. I read this story with the Michelin #337 Guide (Lot, Tarn-et-Garonne) open at my side and followed the action from the beautifully described Lascaux cave art to Sarlat, Beynac, Cazenac, Domme, and La Roque Gageac. (We will spend time in Vezac, close by.) The mystery had a very satisfying ending served up within wonderful archaeological information tempered by in-depth knowledge of French culture ... and food! So well done!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this mystery. The deep description of the surroundings, food and customs made the book a learning experience. I liked the way the story slowly unfolds and you can't figure out the culprit until the end. It reminded me of an Agatha Christie series that features a couple. I agree with the reviewer who said he was interested that the wife was the narrator. A very worthwhile read for those who like an entertaining, relaxing mystery.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of book that you are glad when it is finished. Not because it isn't good--murder in prehistoric caves, hidden French/German collaboration, endless meals and a cooking school--but because you've had enough. The cast of characters is OK and it is interesting how a book written by a couple focuses on the perspective of the female character.

Let me add that the parallels between modern family members and those of the past give the reader some first- hand involvement. And the last sentence of the book is one of the best I have ever read.

Thoroughly researched, I would recommend this for those attracted to historic writing or writing about place. Though there are surprises to keep you wondering, the story lacks a dramatic arc. I fault the fastidiousness of the authors. Had they played even a little looser with events Murder in Lascaux might have proved a more exciting journey.

John Lehman, Rosebud Book Reviews.com
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