December 4, 2012

Murder in the Rue Dumas: Review and Gift Idea

Antoine Verlaque is a powerful magistrate and a cigar connoisseur with a knack for saying just the wrong thing to his girlfriend, the lovely law professor Marine Bonnet. They're enjoying a weekend away when he gets a phone call from Commissioner Bruno Paulik. The head of the local university's theology department, Dr. Georges Moutte, has been found with his head bashed in. Antoine and Marine must head back to Aix-en-Provence in order to catch the killer. Could it be a colleague who wanted Moutte's prestigious post? Could it have been a student angling for the elite Dumas fellowship, which Moutte was about to grant to one lucky applicant? Or could the doyen's murder be related to his extensive collection of rare Gallé vases?

The list of suspects seems endless as Antoine and Bruno uncover an ever-growing array of people who might have wanted to kill Moutte. Meanwhile, Marine has made a few discoveries of her own through her mother's contacts in the theology department. Will they be able to put all the pieces together before someone else dies?

The second in the Verlaque and Bonnet mystery series by M.L. Longworth, Murder in the Rue Dumas is a fun escape to southern France. Antoine, Marine and Bruno are all likable, nuanced characters, even if sometimes their dialogue is a little overcomplicated. But the mystery is intriguing, the characters are well-drawn and the sense of place is irresistible. Murder in the Rue Dumas is meant to be read with a cup of coffee and a croissant in hand.

If you know someone who generally reads mysteries - whether cozies or police procedurals or spy novels - I think Murder in the Rue Dumas is a good middle ground gift option. It has a realness to the crime, and I like that Verlaque is actually supposed to investigate crimes (as opposed to being a florist or a coffee shop owner or something); but it also has lots of descriptions of food, and familial conversations that soften it a bit.

If you're a stickler for reading books in order, I reviewed the first book in this series, Death at the Chateau Bremont, last year - but the novels stand alone pretty well. They make me want to go back to France though; my study abroad was in the summer, and I keep thinking how great it would be to see some of my favorite places in the winter!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure! I think there was a little language maybe, but the details are fuzzy.
The cover image is an Amazon affiliate link. I originally wrote the main part of this review for Shelf Awareness back in September.

Are you gifting books this holiday season? 
Planning trips to France?