France, 1963. Taken out of his home town as part of a nationwide “initiative”, Inspector Lucas Rocco finds himself in the village of Poissons-Les-Marais, Picardie – and answerable to his former army CO Francois Massin. On his first day he finds a murdered woman wearing a Gestapo uniform lying in a British military cemetery. When the body is removed from the mortuary before Rocco can finish his investigation, he traces the paperwork to the dead woman’s father, industrialist Philippe Bayer-Berbier. Following an attempt on one villager’s life and the disappearance of another, Rocco uncovers a series of connections with Berbier. He sets out to discover what has led to the woman’s death…and why Berbier will go to any lengths to stop his investigation.
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This first book in the Lucas Rocco series is an absolutely first-rate listen. Here's why:
Narration: Gordon Griffin's narration simply could not be any better. He is perfect for the book and makes listening a real pleasure. This is exactly what an audio book should be.
The story: This book completely held my interest for a couple reasons. Magson has created some very believable characters. They are flawed, certainly, but that makes them even more real. Second, this is actually historical fiction in many regards. Though set back only 50 years, in terms of current murder mysteries, it might as well be 200. Since it's pre CSI and cell phones and DNA, the plot relies entirely on facts in evidence and old fashioned sleuthing. Third, the setting in rural France is different and interesting. I love the glimpse of small town life. Finally, WWII is but a decade or so in the past, and consequently enters into the setting and the lives of the characters. It made me think about the lingering impact of war when it's been fought on home soil.
This might be one of the most perfect summer escape books I've listened to in ages. If you like Louise Penny's Gamache series, this is in the same vein. Excellent.
- B.J. "I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear."
Best crime novel I've read in many years!
It was actually another listener's very brief review that drew my attention to this excellent book, and for that I am grateful. This book was simply *outstanding* at every level, including Gordon Griffin's amazing narration!
Adrian Magson has created characters and story that almost cannot be put down, because not only is the plot line so compelling, the actual writing itself is also very engaging. Magson has created characters that felt very real to me, but his prose allowed the book to be many dimensional, as I could picture (even smell) the countryside, the marais (marsh area), even Paris. It was his attention to the smallest details that fleshed this book out to be more than just another ordinary police procedural. I came away with vivid images in my mind of the area of Picardie where most of the story occurs.
And oh, does Magson create great characters!I loved that he placed no-nonsense, emotionally wounded Inspector Lucas Rocco, ex-military, now police, in a situation where he is himself new and out of his Parisian comfort zone, due to an "initiative" to put more experienced men into less served areas. He must meet all the people in the small village of Poissons-Les-Marais, people who have known each other forever. Rocco must size them up quickly, because trouble does not take long to appear.
He must decide whether he can trust people like Claude, who is already the garde champêtre in this area, and Rocco doesn't know if Claude is resentful that he's been sent onto his patch. And to his horror, he finds himself now faced with Massin, his new superior officer, who was once his commanding officer during the war, and about whom Rocco knows information that makes Massin hate and fear him. Can he trust Massin to support his efforts in solving this powerful crime? Or will Massin undermine him, to make his threatening presence go away?
A young woman, wearing a Nazi uniform, has been found drowned, and her body is whisked away so quickly, that Rocco immediately becomes suspicious of the circumstances, and instigates and all-out effort to learn what happened. His investigation leads to people in high places, and takes them back to the resistance efforts during the war. The action is fast-paced, a bit more so than I usually like, but in this book, it was great!
It is no contradiction to say that this book is both a powerful page turner, and yet seemed to me to be as tightly and smoothly written as velvet. If there were small places where the writing or reading seemed a bit less-than-perfect, I really did not mind at all. Put it up to the fact that writer and narrator are both human, after all. :-)
I cannot leave off without commenting on the amazing narration of Gordon Griffin. The man has a spectacular ability with voices, his inflections and timing are just about flawless. I'm going to be looking for more books by Adrian Magson, and also books narrated by Gordon Griffin. The two worked together here, almost like magic. Highly recommend this book. Wish I could put 10 stars in all three categories.