Murder on Brittany Shores, by Jean-Luc Bannalec (2016)

Murder on Brittany Shores, by Jean-Luc BannalecThree bodies wash ashore on a remote and uninhabited island off the French shore in Brittany after a storm. Despite the fact this is almost certainly an accident, Commissaire Georges Dupin is obliged to abandoned his beloved morning coffee and croissant at the local cafe in order to investigate. The islands fall within his area of responsibility. And to make matters worse, his boss, the hated Prefect, is using the helicopter, and so Dupin must travel by speedboat. He, a man who does not swim, who loves being AT the sea but not being ON the sea. It’s an important distinction. Robbed of his morning caffeine, Dupin heads off in full-blown cranky mode, and sure enough, gets thoroughly wet. Despite his bad mood, he investigates carefully and soon learns the deaths were not accidental. Dupin finds himself surrounded by a cast of decidedly odd characters, nearly all with a motive, who inexplicably choose to live on the islands, The Glénan, despite appalling cell reception and unpredictable weather. At least the restaurant, Les Quatre Vents, is good. Quite good, in fact, Dupin soon determines. This is the second book in the series; I quite enjoyed the first entry, Death in Brittany, and a third English release is coming soon. This mystery follows the same style as the first – multi-layered, involving complicated investigations, many clues and red herrings, and a satisfying ending that is at once unsettling and refreshing. Dupin’s misanthropic tendencies continue, and it’s quite fun to imagine him at work, refusing to answer calls, stopping to enjoy a lobster and wine, and surprising witnesses with unexpectedly direct questions. The original novel is written in German, and the English translation is by Sorcha McDonagh, who manages to give the narrative a slight formality that creates a French accent in the reader’s mind! One point – the print edition I read, published in 2016 by Minotaur, is littered with typographical errors, with missing spaces and unexpected paragraph breaks in the middle of a sentence. Libraries should seek a second printing which hopefully corrected the issues. Otherwise, an enjoyable mystery perfect for a late winter read.
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