In a sleepy Provencal village, retired postman Emile Pencenat is busy digging his own grave when he spots an unstamped letter in the cemetery's disused postbox, addressed to a Madamoiselle Champourcieux. He dutifully posts the letter. When the body of this same Madamoiselle is later discovered - pinned to her piano with an ancient bayonet - Commissaire Laviolette is coaxed out of retirement to solve one of the most bizarre crimes imaginable.
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(199mm x 130mm x 20mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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US Kirkus Review »
Secrets and lies lead to shockingly violent murder in a small French town.An intimately omniscient narrator introduces the village of Barles in the hilly region of Upper Provence, as well as its eerie cemetery and, finally, an ordinary postbox, the starting point of the mystery. Former postman Emile Pencenat is industriously digging his own grave when he spots an unposted letter and helpfully deposits it in said box. The recipient of the letter is the solitary Veronique, settling into spinsterhood in the family home, the piano her constant companion. Her flouncy friend Ambroisine visits unexpectedly and tells a chilling and rather implausible tale of a man who walks her attic at night, terrifying her. Shortly after, Veronique is attacked and killed with a bayonet by a man incongruously dressed as a sapeur (sapper). The bloody murder sends waves of fear through the small community and draws out of retirement inquisitive Commissaire Laviolette, a veteran investigator who lives nearby. He shares his droll observations with another elderly amateur sleuth, Judge Chabrand. Their probing digs up more than truffles (the region's prized delicacy) in a story full of twists in a town full of outre characters.A pleasantly old-fashioned mystery thriller with quirky charm aplenty. Magnan (Death in the Truffle Wood, 2007, etc.) fashions an intricate landscape of life in a French village while weaving menace and suspense into his tapestry. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Pierre Magnan
Pierre Magnan was born in Manosque in 1922 and has rarely left his native Provence. In 1943, during the Occupation, he fought with the Resistance in the Isere, and in 1946 he published his first novel, L'Aube Insolite. During his lifetime he published over twenty novels, four of which have so far been translated into English. He died in May 2012, at the age of 89.