Thursday, August 9, 2012

Killer Critique by Alexander Campion

Who is killing the Restaurant Reviewers of Paris? That is the question for Paris Judiciaire Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier, young, empathic but definitely capable of getting to the bottom of the dark side of Paris. The difficulty in part is that she knows many of the victims and suspects through her husband, a restaurant reviewer himself. It appears very early on that there is a serial killer with a purpose. But the strange part is the method of the murders with variations on a theme. Also, they seem to happen in the midst of a large number of people, often the same people.

Naturally, Capucine is afraid for her husband as she and her team work to catch the killer, even with their hands somewhat tied by order of the "Juge d'Inspection" who has forbidden them to interrogate anyone. A man we will soon love to hate. This adds more spice and personality to the story. The main characters are well-drawn and despite their individual quirks, are all assets to the series. Alexander Campion certainly knows his food, wine and characters.

The book was enjoyable, my only criticism is that the flow is often interrupted by the overuse of long and rarely-used words requiring the reader, if he/she wants to get the full feel of the story, to keep a dictionary close at hand. I am a logophile myself (lover of words), but guessing at some (somewhat obvious: susserated, vertiginously, tintinnabulation), or stopping to look others up, is not pleasurable for the average reader. This intriguing and entertaining storyline may not run as smoothly as it could, with these hiccups in the flow. Personally, I am unable to refrain from looking up words I am unsure of. After all, that's how I learn them, but this book almost teeters on the edge of too far, which is a real shame because I'm sure no author would want his/her reader to feel intimidated, but mesmerized as the story unfolds.

I must say though, that once again I have learned something new (other than a handful of words), I was fascinated with how curare darts were made, and in particular how long they remain poisonous.

The several French phrases sprinkled throughout conversations are to be expected, and are mostly recognizable. After all, not only does the series take place in France, but the author has lived and worked in France. I do not refer to the names of the dishes, wines and other beverages, they are what they are and either recognized or explained.

All told though, the storyline is taut and keeps the reader's attention, the solution to the crime keeps one guessing, and the characters are well-fleshed, which is, perhaps, its saving grace. Alexander Campion has created some very interesting characters and a deliciously tantalizing series to be savoured. Would I read another in this series? Definitely.

No comments: