Death on the Marais by Adrian Magson

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Death on the Marais by Adrian Magson

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: Part crime and part action thriller, this novel is set in rural France in the 1960s. A dead body found in bizarre circumstances and links going back to the second world war Resistance Movement give a bit of a twist to the story.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 384 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: 978-0749008345

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We meet the central character, Inspector Rocco and are informed that he's a city man, happiest pounding the elegant streets of Paris. But suddenly and against his will, he finds himself in the sticks. He's not too happy about it. His new colleagues are more than happy to rib him a little, tell him that nothing much in the way of crime happens here. One of these colleagues takes things a stage further - puffs up his cheeks before commenting we get the occasional punch-up over a game of bar billiards ... Rocco thinks he'll be bored out of his skull in no time. Big surprise then when on day one, yes, on day one he's involved in the discovery of a young woman. And Magson wastes no time in giving his readers all the gory details of this woman's last few hours alive. We almost feel her slow, agonising death. And the question is why?

The scene of the crime is apparently a marshland area (marais). It's secretive and out of the way for most people. But the local wildlife can live here in peace and quiet. Well, until now that is. The lovely contrast between city slick and basic, rural living is played up time and time again to good effect. Whole paragraphs are given over to the local rustic food and the primitive houses, practical (rather ugly) clothing and a no-nonsense way of life. And poor Rocco is like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. He knows it - and so do the local community. But he has a nice survival line in quiet humour to get by. He doesn't take himself too seriously.

Rocco is a little ruffled, however, when he finds his new boss is rather familiar. Shared history. Could this be a prickly professional relationship? And as is befitting of the novel's title, we visit the marais area quite a few times. And Magson gives his readers a sense of the place. Its beauty but also its eeriness, especially during the dark hours. It's swampy too. One wrong step and you're a goner... As the story unfolds we find out that there is some habitation by humans ...

Rocco is a likeable character. I took to him straight away. We're given the sketchiest of details about his personal life which makes him a bit of a mystery. And professionally he likes to do his own thing. He's good at his job and here he reminded me a little of television's Jack Frost. Yes, a law unto himself.

Several key characters make their entrance at the appropriate place in the storyline. But I must admit to finding some of the prose lacking in sparkle, it plodded along, even with a strong enough action theme. For me, that was the book's downside. That said, the reader is kept hanging till the very last moment for all of the pieces to fall into place and the crime solved. A few red herrings and then all is revealed. The ending is excellent.

Overall, a good story and good plot but it just lacked pace for me in places. I expected more after reading the back cover blurb and I was a little disappointed. However, if you enjoy all things French, this book will appeal.

If this book appeals then you might like to try How to Seduce a Ghost by Hope McIntyre.

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Buy Death on the Marais by Adrian Magson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death on the Marais by Adrian Magson at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Death on the Marais by Adrian Magson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death on the Marais by Adrian Magson at


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