Review + Giveaway: Murder in the Rue Dumas

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.

Review + Giveaway: Murder in the Rue DumasMurder in the Rue Dumas by M. L. Longworth
Series: Verlaque and Bonnet #2
on September 25, 2012
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

The second book in the delightful Verlaque and Bonnet mystery series is another page-turning whodunit, this time in set in a small community of theology students and professors at Aix-en-Provence's university.

When the director of the theology department at the university in Aix is found dead, Judge Verlaque is dumbfounded. Professor Moutte was about to announce the recipient of both a fellowship, and his position as Director - which includes the coveted apartment in a 17th century mansion. The prospective recipients and others close to Moutte make up a long list of suspects, but Verlaque isn't convinced any of the eager students or desperate teachers are capable of murder, and he must dig deeper. With Marine's help - and that of her plucky mother - Verlaque uncovers a world that proves more complicated than university politics.

First Sentence: “The friendship between Yann Falquerho and Thierry Marchive had surprised everyone at the university.”

Despite mysteries not being my favorite genre, I read this one right on the heels of the prequel to Luther. The two could not be any more different, but both turned out to be entirely delightful vacation reads, this one especially so. In a rare occurrence, I read this book without first reading the first book in the series. While I would have preferred to read them in order, I will say that my enjoyment of the book was in no way hampered by my lack of knowledge of the first book.

I accepted the review request for this becase of the setting. I have been lucky enough in my quarter century of life to do some traveling abroad, and one of the places I have been to is Aix in Provence. Of course, I only spent a couple of days there and I certainly don’t have enough memories of the place to be able to recall anything specific enough to aid in my knowledge of the book, but I still liked being able to immerse myself in smaller town French culture.

In that respect, I got absolutely everything I hoped for from Murder in the Rue Dumas. The book is so French. There is much discussion of food, wine, alcohol, and such things. Warning: this book will make you hungry. There’s a certain snobbishness to it, but I found it fabulous.

Longworth’s mystery hearkens back to Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, following more of a classic tradition in both plot arc and hero. Modern detectives seem always to come hard-boiled and violent, getting involved in a very hands-on manner in cases. Antoine Verlaque cares about solving the case of course, but he does not entirely relinquish the finer things in life to do so, nor does he have any intention of being involved in some final, dramatic confrontation with the killer. He is clever and closed off and a little bit sassy.

Bonnet, actually, is not a detective at all. She’s Verlaque’s girlfriend, who, I presume, he hooked up with in the first book. Their relationship is in that awkward phase where neither is quite sure how serious it is. Bonnet does help some with the case, but is, largely, on the periphery. I do like her, and I like that she isn’t his partner, as that changes up typical dynamics a bit. I was not super attached to the characters, but I was entertained by them, which was enough for me.

Murder in the Rue Dumas also happens to be a very academic mystery. The murder victim works in the theology department of the same university where Bonnet teaches law. Most of the large cast of characters work in academia, so there’s quite a bit of theological or otherwise very intelligent discussion. In this way, the book reminded me quite a bit of David Lodge’s books, which are sort of academic humor and are in fact referenced in this novel.

This mystery will be a breath of fresh burgundy for those who miss the old days and the classic detectives. Everything happens at a slower pace and involves much less vigilante justice and a lot more thinking. I would recommend drinking a nice bottle of French wine as you read.

If you live in the US, enter to win a copy by filling out THIS FORM by October 5 at midnight.

Favorite Quote:

“‘Have you ever read the Persian Letters?’ he asked.
‘No, I never have. Molière? Marivaux?’
‘Close. Montesquieu. There are these Turks, Usbek and Rica, who go on a grand tour of Western Europe, hilariously misinterpreting the people and customs they see along the way.’
‘Are you referring to Roussel?’ Paulik asked. ‘Or Yann and Thierry?’
‘No, us.'”

9 responses to “Review + Giveaway: Murder in the Rue Dumas”

  1. Giselle says:

    Oh I love books that are set overseas! I haven’t traveled much so I do it vicariously through book characters haha. I love the sounds of the good olf fashioned mystery, too. I’ve always been a fan of them so this one sounds right up my alley! Too bad the cover is so.. bleh.

  2. Steena says:

    I’m really excited to read these now. I always think of myself being a mystery lover and then when I try to read modern mystery am hugely disappointed. You make a good point that the mystery genre has become more hard-boiled and gritty, which is exactly why I don’t like them. I love Poirot, the Thin Man, and Holmes precisely because they’re so heady. I guess I’m looking for cloak and dagger not trench coat and…modern gun the names of which I don’t know…Glock?? That’s a gun, right? Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading this and will absolutely be drinking wine with it.

  3. Happy this one surprised you a bit. I’m with Giselle, I haven’t travelled, like at all. I’ve never even been on a plane. I do get forced to take the 9 hour drive to Saskatchewan once a year to visit my dad’s family but if you know of Sask you know that’s not exciting. At. All.

  4. Audra says:

    I adore the cover and the setting — having never been there, I presume I adore the setting, at least! — so I’m glad this seemed to be a fun kind of mystery. Thanks for the giveaway — I’m going to add the first book to my TBR when GoodReads stops acting stupid!

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