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Death in Bordeaux [Paperback]

Allan Massie
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.00
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Book Description

1 Jun 2010
In the spring of 1940, the mutilated body of a homosexual is discovered in a street near the Bordeaux railway station. It looks like a straight-forward sex crime, but when Superintendent Lannes is warned off the investigation, his suspicion that there is a political motive for the murder seems justified. In defiance of authority, he continues working on the case. And then another body is found...Meanwhile, the Superintendent has other troubles. His eldest son, Dominique, is at the Front, his wife, Marguerite, is depressed, and when the Battle of France breaks out, Bordeaux is filled with refugees fleeing the war. Suddenly civilian crime seems of little importance compared to the chaos that ensues. As Bordeaux becomes an occupied city, Lannes' chief suspect is untouchable, protected by a relative in the Vichy government. Lannes himself is threatened with blackmail on account of his Jewish friends and Dominique is taken prisoner. Common sense should make Lannes abandon the investigation, but honour and a natural obstinacy lead him to pursue it. However, as events turn increasingly bleak, Lannes begins to doubt it can ever be solved...

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Death in Bordeaux + Dark Summer in Bordeaux + Cold Winter in Bordeaux
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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Quartet Books (1 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0704371901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0704371903
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Massie's evocation of France on the brink of the invasion is vivid and convincing, and this fine novel, set in a period of moral turmoil, introduces a humane and memorable detective' --Sunday Times

'The plot Massie lays before his readers is so satisfyingly complex that you'd be best off reading the book in one sitting; it is so well written that you'll probably find yourself doing that anyway. Thought-provoking, fast-paced and gripping throughout, it is the work of a natural storyteller at the height of his powers' --Scotsman

'Remarkable' --Literary Review

About the Author

Allan Massie is the author of twenty novels including the critically acclaimed World War II trilogy: A Question of Loyalties, The Sins of the Father, and Shadows of Empire. He read History at Cambridge and, as a political and literary journalist, has contributed to most national newspapers including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman and The Spectator.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful editing 20 Oct 2010
By Kirsty
The copy editor of this book should be taken out and shot. There were so many errors, most of which would have been caught with a standard spell and grammar check program. I enjoyed the book, but finding mistakes on nearly every page really stopped me from getting into the story.
I hope the publisher tries a lot harder on the next two volumes of the trilogy.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book 12 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought it really as a who dun it but its much more than that.It explores what happened as the Vichy republic was formed during the second world war.It explores the dilemas that many were faced with in a very believable fashion.There were some, very believable monsters but most were just ordinary people trying to do their best.No heros and not many real villians,which is what it probably was like.Looking forward to more in this series.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massie treats the Last War excitingly 23 July 2010
Massie is an expert on vichy France in the Second world War, as his earlier, prize-winning A Question of Loyalties amply demonstrated. Now he revisits the stricken country, where people are torn between conflicting loyalties, and tells a compelling detective story in this tense background. Superb!
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would agree with a previous reviewer who wrote that the copy editor of this book should be taken out and shot — a slightly unfortunate image given the book's setting and time period — except that I doubt there ever was such a person. Almost every page has homonyms, wrong quotation marks, missing quotation marks, missing punctuation, odd paragraph breaks or no break where there should be one, and so on.
Worse, it seems in places as if there were no editorial input whatever. One small instance is a bottle put away in a cupboard that mysteriously appears in a character's hands a sentence later. There is little excuse for not picking this kind of thing up. More importantly there is a sudden and, it feels, unnecessary change of point of view, late on in the story which, which seems remarkably amateurish for such an experienced and competent writer as does the frequent repetition of certain words, notably "disgust/disgusting" throughout, and the apparent determination to 'convince' the reader by naming what must be every third street and brasserie in Bordeaux. Each grammatical or stylistic error has the effect of jerking the reader out of the story which is a pity since Massie captures the feel of Bordeaux at the start of WW2 persuasively and the story itself is initially involving.
Overall the book reads more like a second draft — in one place there's even what seems like a 'note to self' in the text — than a book polished by either author or editor. The first few pages seemed both formulaic and tentative, as if the writer were playing himself in, just getting the feel of the writing. The story overall seems uncertain with, to me, an unsatisfactory ending, or, rather, an ending which would have been satisfactory had there been more to it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read the trilogy in order for full enjoyment. 27 Aug 2014
By AlexM
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
These are fascinating books and I recommend them. From which you will infer that I think of them as a trilogy, to be read in order – Death in Bordeaux, Dark Summer in B and then Cold Winter in B. (Same review for each book.) I had never really thought much about the realities of the Occupied/Vichy France situation during WWII but these three books set me thinking and wanting to learn more. The ongoing story of Lannes and his family give an internal structure to the books, quite apart from the detective work. Editing should have picked up earlier the incorrect Travaux Rurales, thankfully changed to Travaux Ruraux from book three. And every so often you come across a word and think to yourself “That’s the original French rather than the appropriate English word” and then you realise that it’s not a translation but original English. I wish now I had noted examples but look for them yourself and don’t let this spoil your enjoyment!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Try this, it's good! 6 Feb 2013
By Muffet
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story, set in France aqt the beginning of the Occupation, gives a very interesting picture of life and people's thoughts there at this time, as well as being a very good detection plot.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars inexcusably shabby editing 16 Aug 2012
By andy
It really bothers me that neither the author nor the publisher thought it worth their while to do a serious, professional editing job on this book. In theory it is an interesting work, but one's reading experience is spoiled by zillions of typos, spelling mistakes, missing or wrong punctuation, etc. Unacceptable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great atmosphere; shoddy presentation. 11 Sep 2014
Loved this book. It recreates what life was like for the locals under the German occupation of Bordeaux with clarity and style. In the atmospheric stakes it's up there with the early Alan Fursts. More than a mystery story, it deals with morality and morals. But oh for a competent copy editor! The book is littered with errors, misspellings, wrong words, new paragraphs where there should be none, and missing letters. It becomes very tiresome. Quartz Books should be ashamed to put this on the market in this state. I really hope the other two have had a little more care and attention paid to the printed word.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Rich mix of cruel crime and alcohol
Read this for our book club and although it was a good read it was quite confusing with characters not clearly drawn and language issues - ie Scottish words such as 'bairn' were... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Mmvanderpump
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and atmospheric. It helps to have some context ...
Interesting and atmospheric.It helps to have some context about the conflicting political ideologies during Vichy France.Well paced and superbly detailed.
Published 20 days ago by stephen larkin
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully atmospheric noir thriller featuring a world-weary French...
Wonderfully atmospheric noir thriller featuring a world-weary French police detective working in Bordeaux at the time of the French collapse and German occupation in 1940. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Markell
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story and characters disapointed by end as it is ...
Good story and characters disapointed by end as it is more like the end of part one and eas left wanting for something differnt.
Published 1 month ago by sylvia llecha
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and perceptive detective novel. Highly recommended
Beautifully written. The moral dilemmas of a French policeman under Nazi rule are put under the microscope and described with sensitivity and understanding. Read more
Published 1 month ago by dmf9436
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
The author is on to a winner with this series. There's summat for the crime buff and the setting will interest the historian wanting to get a feel for occupied France. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bronstein
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the trilogy of which this book is the first
This book is as much a reflection of the life in Vichy France as it is a murder mystery. It was interesting from a historical point if view. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Joan Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Would make a good film
Once I was used to Massie's style, which felt a little like a film script the way it jumps quickly from scene to scene, I enjoyed this unusual tale set in Bordeaux at the beginning... Read more
Published 2 months ago by L Burnett
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by john strange
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It stopped me from being bored
Published 2 months ago by Mossmo
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