My Mama Said: Murder on the Ile Sordou by M.L. Longworth

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Mama Said: Murder on the Ile Sordou by M.L. LongworthMurder on the Île Sordou by M. L. Longworth
Series: Verlaque and Bonnet #4
Published by Penguin on September 30, 2014
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

The fourth book in the Verlaque and Bonnet Provencal Mystery series finds Verlaque and Bonnet on vacation on a remote island in the glittering Mediterranean.

Like Donna Leon and Andrea Camilleri, M. L. Longworth’s books enchant mystery lovers with a taste for good food and gorgeous landscapes. In 'Murder on the Île Sordou', Judge Antoine Verlaque and his girlfriend, law professor Marine Bonnet, are hoping to enjoy a relaxing holiday at the Locanda Sordou, an opulent hotel that is reopening after decades, but someone has other plans.

Maxime and Catherine Le Bon have spent their life savings restoring the Locanda, which lies on an archipelago just off the coast of Marseille. The murder of one of the guests casts a shadow over everyone’s vacation, and Verlaque and Bonnet are once again called to investigate. But things go from bad to worse when a violent storm cuts off all communication with the mainland. Will the killer strike again?

Note from Christina: Today, I have a special guest reviewer, my mom. She’s a huge fan of this mystery series and since they’re right up her alley, I think she can do them justice better than I can. I’m a reader because of my parents, so I think it’s only fair to have their voices show up on occasion. (At some point, I’m planning a list of their favorite YA that I’ve forced on them.) Leave a comment and make mom’s day!

This is the fourth book in a series called “A Verlaque & Bonnet Provencal Mystery.” While I have read the second and third books, but not the first, this one can be an introduction to the series. While some of the characters do carry over (they are investigating the crimes), and you get glimpses of their personal lives, this book can stand on its own. The link to a prior review (Death in the Vines found below) will allow the interested reader starting with this book to pick up some of the background information.

In a departure from the other books in this series, much of the action here takes place on an island, Sordou, which was invented by the author. There are some real islands outside Marseilles and she has modeled her new island from their looks, placing it to the south of them. Since much of the action takes place on the island, there is less travelog in this book than in the others I have read. However, there is a travel-back-in-time feeling to this one. An historic hotel from the 1950s and 1960s has been remodeled, renovated, and reopened as an homage to the period of its heyday. And this book also pays homage to the great Agatha Christie works from that time period. Add in that it’s summertime at a resort, and you get a more languorous beach read that you packed along for vacation.

We get to meet all the people living on this small island. The only native tends the lighthouse, the fourth generation of his family to do so. Then there are the hotel staff who have been living there for several months as restoration is finished and they prepare to open the hotel. Nest the first week’s guests arrive by boat; these include Verlaque & Bonnet. We meet all of these people and learn about them as they mix and mingle. Enjoy rubbing elbows with the rich and famous on the Riviera. Linger over fabulous gourmet meals. Savor the wines and cocktails and sea breezes. Swim in the pool or at the pier or from a rocky Mediterranean beach on a cove down a trail from the hotel. Bask in the sun by the pool, on terrace or balcony, or lay out on a rock by the sea. You are unplugged without a cell tower or wi-fi, just an old cable to the mainland for phone and dial-up modem. Then one of the guests is found dead on the rock beach by the cove. Suspicions abound and friendliness abates. The coroner and police from Marseilles are called in. Verlaque’s police colleagues from Aix search into issues uncovered during interviews on the island. Verlaque and Bonnet at the hotel are further enisled by a storm that knocks out the hotel’s generator.

In case you haven’t guessed it yet, this book is an homage to And Then There Were None, which seemed likely by 30 pages into the book. But in a twist from the original, the protagonists live to solve another crime. And this is much more of a character study as we get to know everyone at the hotel. I am writing this at the beach in Florida, on vacation, thankful that there has not yet been a murder among the guests. And especially thankful for all the wonderful sand beaches we have here in the southeastern US – those rocky beaches on the Mediterranean just don’t seem as nice to me. But the coastline of the Calanques by Marseilles is really dramatic and these islands make a great, eerie setting for this murder mystery.

Favorite Quotes:

Because I’m a wine lover:

“Verlaque ignored the women as he continued to read the wine menu, which for him was as interesting as a novel.”

Because it sums up the motive for the book:

“’This is sheer Agatha Christie,’ Sylvie whispered.”

2 responses to “My Mama Said: Murder on the Ile Sordou by M.L. Longworth”

  1. Ami says:

    Great review, Christina’s mom! I liked the quotes you used–the wine quote is great.
    I was definately intrigued by the setting–of your review writing & the book! 🙂
    Ami recently posted…All not dressed up & a place to write! #WIPmo Check-In 1/5My Profile

  2. Steena says:

    I’ve been interested in this series from previous reviews but hesitant because I didn’t want to get sucked in to a long series. I’m happy to read that this one at least could be a stand alone and is not dependent on reading them all together.

    An Agatha Christie homage sounds like this is definitely going on my to-read list. Thanks, mama!

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