Monday, April 24, 2017

The Curse of La Fontaine: A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery

I'm continuing my quest to read more mysteries, and thanks to Penguin Books, I was able to try a mystery series that took me to Aix-en-Provence, France.  

There are five previous mysteries in this series, but I didn't have any problems starting this far into the series.  I may go back and read from the beginning, if only to see the backdrop to Verlaque and Bonnet's romance.  

Antoine Verlaque is a French judge; Marine Bonnet is a law professor.  They are enjoying life as newlyweds and have the pressing problem of deciding what to do with two apartments.  An appreciation of good food and wine adds a lot of charm to these characters and I felt immediately at ease with them.  

In this mystery, a new restaurant has opened in town called La Fontaine, run by Siegbert "Bear" Valets.  It's a hit, but Bear has created a stir by getting approval to have outdoor seating that nestles up against a private courtyard shared by the surrounding apartment buildings.  In that courtyard is a lovely fountain with a dark historical background.  The story goes that in times of trouble the fountain stops flowing.  The local historical society doesn't want Bear to disturb the courtyard, and a fight is brewing. 

Bear starts preparing for his outdoor seating by planning an herb garden.  Things come to a halt when his employees find a skeleton near the fountain.  Verlaque, as judge is required to do all the questioning and footwork to gather evidence to help solve the mystery of the skeleton.  Who could it be, and how old is the skeleton?  Why was no one ever reported missing in Aix-en-Provence?  As Verlaque delves deeper into the mystery, local issues with the aristocracy begin to surface, along with a case from Verlaque's past that may have sent the wrong man to prison.  

I was glad to discover this mystery series.  I was very charmed by Verlaque and Bonnet.  They work very well as a team and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.  I would say this is a lovely series with a bit of sophistication.  You certainly want to reach for a glass of wine while reading it. M.L. Longworth sets the scene of a small town in France--I certainly wouldn't mind visiting.  Once again, even the most beautiful and seemingly peaceful places can harbor secrets that lead to murder. 

Thank you Penguin Books for a review copy of this mystery.  Anyone who has a soft spot for France, likes a mystery with a bit of history thrown in, and appreciates a good meal, good wine, and a small group of friends will want to read this series.  

Rating:  4/6 for a delightful introduction to a mystery series set in France.  This is the sixth book in the series, and it is not necessary to start at the beginning to be able to capture the ebb and flow of the relationship of Verlaque and Bonnet. Charming. 

Available in  hardcover, paperback, and ebook.