Saturday, 27 October 2018

Book Review: Death in Paris by Emilia Bernhard

It’s always a bit of a risk trying a new author and a new series, even if the genre is tried and tested (cosy mystery, in this case). A delicious risk, admittedly, but a risk nevertheless. 

It paid off. I’d never heard of Emilia Bernhard and the book was so recently published when I downloaded it that a handful of Amazon reviews weren’t much guidance, so I opened up Death in Paris with a degree of trepidation. It’s so easy, under those circumstances, to pick a dud. But this time something went right. 

The story focuses on Rachel, middle-aged, married and living in Paris, and her friend Magda as they try to unravel a suspicious death. Rachel’s long-ago lover, the fabulously wealthy Edgar Bowen, is found dead, apparently drowned in his bowl of soup as he dined alone, a passing which generates a considerable amount of behind-the-hands laughter, but Rachel’s suspicions are alerted by the detail of a half-bottle of rose on the table. Edwin hated rose…

With a crime novel you can never discuss the plot in much detail for fear of spoilers, but I will say that I found the characters interesting and credible and the plot had enough twists and turns to keep me interested. I loved the setting, in affluent central Paris, and the real sense of place which the author imparted. And I was constantly smiling at the quirky observations of wealthy Parisians in their natural milieu. 

Did I think there were one or two unanswered questions? Did Rachel and Magda stumble into the trap of going in to confront the suspect when anyone else would have waited for the police to arrive? (In fairness, that’s the difficulty that cosy crime writers so often struggle to avoid.) Did I find the conversation and the disingenuousness of the sleuths a little on the irritating side, to the point that I might be struggling with it by book six in the series? 

The answer to all these is yes, but it really doesn’t matter. Reviewing is so subjective. There are good books I don’t like and bad books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading. Death in Paris isn’t perfect, and I’ve given worse reviews than this to books that were probably better. But it’s good — very good. It was the right book for the right moment, and I absolutely loved it.

Bring on book 2!

Thanks to Netgalley and Thistle Publishing for a copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

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