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DEATH ON THE PONT NOIR
by Adrian Magson
Allison and Busby, June 2012
384 pages
19.99 GBP
ISBN: 0749040114


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

After the two previous books in this series, DEATH ON THE MARAIS and DEATH ON THE RIVE NORD, Inspector Lucas Rocco is starting to feel like an old and valued friend and the Picardie countryside in the early 1960s has taken on a pleasantly familiar feel. But it's as well not to get too comfortable, as the area around the village of Poissons-Les-Marias is still capable of acquiring a much darker hue, as the title of this latest book in the series suggests.

A group of drunken English tourists, apparently in the area to visit a family member's grave, smash up a bar with more than the usual amount of violence. Rocco wants them to cool their heels in custody for a while, but his superiors have other ideas. With talk about closer links between England and France, possibly even via an unlikely-sounding tunnel, the powers that be would rather not be seen to rock any boats and Rocco is ordered to let the men go, after paying a generous amount of compensation to the owner of the bar.

Rocco is less than convinced by their story and decided to dig a little deeper into their reasons for visiting France. He becomes even more interested when he finds a link to a puzzling incident involving what appears to be an elaborately staged accident and the dead body of a local tramp. Rocco's investigations take him to England and he uncovers links between the men who smashed up the bar and some of London's most notorious gangsters.

As ever in Rocco's patch, there's a lot going on, but the various plot strands are convincingly handled as Rocco tries to unravel a plot that could strike at the very heart of government -- a threat to de Gaulle himself. But those close to the president are unconvinced, leaving Rocco to follow his instincts, something that he is good at. As ever, the setting of France in 1960s is well-drawn, but without any heavy-handed reminders and Magson grounds the narrative in both place and time with an enviable ease.

DEATH ON THE PONT NOIR has a darker feel than the earlier books. This is certainly not gastronomic cosy territory. Magson provides solid police work, great characterisation and pacy plotting. Rocco is on fine form here, and I hope he will continue in this vein for a long time to come.

Linda Wilson is a writer and retired solicitor with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, August 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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