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Death in the Vines : A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery (Verlaque and Bonnet Provencal Mysteries) Paperback – 28 May 2013
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Praise for M. L. Longworth's Provençal Mystery series"The Verlaque and Bonnet mysteries . . . plunge you into a languid world of epicurean pleasures and good living." --Eleanor Beardsley, NPR "Beguiling . . . Longworth evokes the pleasures of France in delicious detail--great wine, delicious meals, and fine company." --Publishers Weekly "Longworth's novels . . . are mysteries for foodies, with the plot providing a table upon which the enchanting meals and accompanying wines are served." --Booklist
Praise for Death in the Vines
"Judge Antoine Verlaque, the sleuth in this civilized series, discharges his professional duties with discretion. But we're here to taste the wines, which are discussed by experts like Hippolyte Thebaud, a former wine thief, and served in beautiful settings like a 300-year-old stone farmhouse. So many bottles, so many lovely views. A reader might be forgiven for feeling woozy." --Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review "Though the plot is hair-raising, what keeps you glued to this mystery is its vivid portrait of everyday life in Aix, which deftly juxtaposes the elegance of the city . . . with quotidian woes and pleasures." --Oprah.com "As much as the mystery intrigues--in this case some intertwined crimes involving a local winery, a missing elderly woman, and a rich man's suspicious construction project--what really makes Longworth's books enjoyable are the atmosphere and details that she includes of the South of France." --The Seattle Post-Intelligencer "What follows is a lovely, almost cozy police procedural that deserves to be read with a glass of wine in hand. Longworth paints such a loving picture of Provence that it's likely you'll start planning a vacation trip to France the moment you set the book down." --The Denver Post "This is an intelligently written police procedural with the warm comfort of a baguette with banon cheese." --Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine "Enjoyable . . . the book's real strength is its evocation of place." --Publishers Weekly
Praise for Murder in the Rue Dumas "Fans of European sleuths with a taste for good food . . . will have fun." --Publishers Weekly "What really makes Longworth's writing special is her deep knowledge of French history, landscape, cuisine, and even contemporary cafes and restaurants. This is that rare atmospheric mystery that is street-wise and café-canny." --Booklist (starred review) "Longworth's gentle procedural succeeds on several levels, whether it's for academic and literary allusions, police work, or armchair travel. With deftly shifting points of view, Longworth creates a beguiling read that will appeal to Louise Penny and Donna Leon fans." --Library Journal "French-set mysteries have never been more popular [and] among the very best is a series set in Provence featuring Monsieur Verlaque, an examining magistrate, and his sometime girlfriend, law professor Marine Bonnet." --The Denver Post
About the Author
M. L. Longworth has lived in Aix-en-Provence since 1997. She has written about the region for the Washington Post, the Times (London), the Independent(London), and Bon Appétit. She is the author of a bilingual collection of essays, Une Américaine en Provence. She divides her time between Aix and Paris, where she teaches writing at NYU's Paris campus.
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While these are mainly mysteries, the books are almost equally character studies and a travel guide.
A fun read and for me, very familiar references! She is spot on with her descriptions!
Winery owner Olivier Bonnard discovers some, not all, but some, of his rare vintage wines have been stolen from his cellar. Gilles d'Arras is missing something even more critical, his wife, Pauline, has disappeared. It is up to Magistrate Antoine Verlaque and Police Commissioner Bruno Paulik to solve both mysteries.
For anyone who loves wine, the opening is quite devastating. Unfortunately, it also contains a completely unnecessary portent.
Commissioner Paulik and Magistrate Verlaque are characters who are very different from one another, but work very well together, which is refreshing. I did enjoy how the families of the characters played into the story. It confirms the setting being a small city rather than being in Paris. However, there was very little character development and much of the focus was on personal relationships, rather than the crimes. That said, there were interesting insights into relationships in general. Aside from the principals, there were a lot of characters introduced but with no indication of who they were or how they were relevant.
Although a strong sense of place is lacking, there are enough passages with visual descriptions that paint verbal pictures and assure us that we are in the beautiful area of Aix-en-Provence. There are wonderful descriptions of wine, but not the mouth-watering descriptions of food other authors may provide. The narrative is smooth and the dialogue natural.
"Death in the Vines" is a gentle mystery. It is much more a story of character--and very good, interesting characters they are--than of plot. It is enjoyable but not terribly exciting.
DEATH IN THE VINES (Pol Proc-Verlaque/Paulik-France, Contemp) - Good
Longworth, M.L. - 3rd in series
Penguin Books - 2013
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