Death in Brittany, by Jean-Luc Bannalec (2012, 2015)

Death in BrittanyCommissaire Georges Dupin is responsible for policing the small Breton town of Concarneau, a fishing village on the Atlantic coast in the northeast corner of France. He’s been there nearly three years, since being banished from Paris for “certain disputes” with his superiors – the first clue that this bad-tempered cop will be an interesting character with little regard for the way things are done. He has accepted his fate, contentedly starting each day with several morning coffees and croissants at a pretty cafe devoid of annoying tourists. The morning of July 7, his custom is interrupted with a phone call from the irritating Inspector Labat informing him of a murder in nearby Point-Aven, a village whose top cop is on holiday. The crime becomes Dupin’s responsibility, and he quickly abandons his coffee and croissant. Speeding to the scene, he is soon puzzled – who would kill a 91-year-old hotelier whose days were spent on walks, supporting the local art museum, and meeting regularly with his long-term, well-trained hotel staff? Dupin methodically interviews friends, family, and colleagues only to discover a knot of intrigue and lies, and more death. This police procedural was first published in Germany in 2012, then Britain and now North America. Translator Sorcha McDonagh perfectly captures the tranquil and idyllic setting, the eccentric policing of the marginally misanthropic Dupin, and the hints at future romance in this first in a series of cozy mysteries in the style of Hercule Poirot. There are enough references to past events that I wondered if this was perhaps a sequel, but it’s not, which makes it an enjoyable multi-layered read with promise of more pleasant mystery-solving to come.
More discussion and reviews of this novel (reviews are of British edition under a variant title):


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