‘Five Dead Men’ by Rachel Green
When the bodies of five men are discovered in a secret vault at the villa Belle Époque, suspicion falls upon the villa’s former owner, enigmatic Pascal Deveraux.
Actor, gambler, general good-for-nothing – Pascal has lived a life of privilege and excess. But with no evidence to implicate him in murder, the case goes unsolved.
Called in to investigate the cold case, it’s not long before Margot’s enquiries re-open old wounds. Aided by policière municipale, Alia Leon, the investigation moves swiftly from the smugglers’ trails of the Pyrenees to the cannabis clubs of Barcelona. And it’s there, in the dark medieval streets of the city’s Gothic Quarter, that someone finds a reason to silence her.
When I reviewed the first instalment in the Madame Renard Investigates series I described Rachel Green as “clearly an accomplished writer. She is alert to colour and the subtleties and nuance of people’s movements and, always a big bonus for me, her dialogue has the snap and sparkle of real people.”
This sense very clearly continues as the widowed investigator returns for her second outing. Green is – in a similar way to the work of Martin Walker which I praised so highly last week building a milieu and cast of characters which are becoming like familiar friends.
Also like Walker, Green has a nicely sparse style which makes these investigations easy to read and a pleasure to spend time with. Renard is a charming character – still somewhat mourning her husband, relaxing into her changing body and enjoying trainers rather than high heels these days, frustrated by her limited painting skills.
An additional similarity to the work of Walker is that Green packs a much starker picture than people will expect. These are not ‘Rosemary and Thyme’ en Francais. There’s a down to earth quality which makes the charming setting and likeable lead character undergirded by steel.
Overall, a worthy addition to the series and another accomplished performance from Rachel Green.
Rachel Green is the pen name of a writer from the UK. Rachel has twice been longlisted for both the Bath Novel Award and the BPA First Novel Award, as well as being on the shortlist for the Capital Crime New Voices Award. Rachel lives in a tiny village in England, but travels frequently to the south of France where the stories from the Madame Renard Investigates series are set
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