I read this in the Italian version, so I can't comment on the English translation, but I really enjoyed this book, not so much for the plot, which revolves around the usual rather over-used rigmarole of the psychopathic serial killer, nice but nothing particularly exciting, but for the tasty side-dish effect of its particular details.
The first, of course, is the setting: the highly-coloured Roussillon region of southern France - not to be confused with the famous Provencal town of the same name - close to the Pyrenees, where the language spoken is a strange blend of French and Catalan, and coffee seems to play a vital role in the lives of its inhabitants. It's not an area I know at all, but the book inspired in me an immediate desire to go there.
The inspector's refreshing mountain walks are so vividly and realistically described that you too feel as if you're searching in those cool shady spots for a little comfort from the deadly summer heat.
The second reason is the character of the police inspector, Sebag, with his all-too human imperfections, unusual perhaps in this type of book for his devotion to family rather than work, so tender in his enduring love for his beautiful wife and in his tormenting doubts regarding her fidelity. He's a man who's not afraid of showing weakness, one whose life you're keen to follow in order to see what happens.
The third is the cats, in general, and especially this story's particular cat who, bored and sapped by the heat, decides to abandon his garden to keep the inspector company by the swimming pool. Mysterious and elusive as the book's killer, but without his dark soul. I've already got the second Italian book in the series at home - perfect reading for the summer hols ...