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Murder à La Carte (2011)

Murder à la Carte (2011)
3.41 of 5 Votes: 3
san marco press
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Murder à La Carte (2011)
Murder à La Carte (2011)

About book: We had a nice turnout, including even a M-A-N, at Tuesday���s book club meeting. We were delighted to have Susan Kiernan-Lewis as a special guest and author of last month���s book, Toujours Dead. The second book in a trilogy of ���Maggie��� books Toujours Dead follows Maggie as she moves from Atlanta to Provence with her boyfriend Laurent. He has inherited a nice little vineyard and Maggie has agreed to move with him for one year while he looks at selling the place. Upon arrival there���s the discovery of a murder that took place years ago on the property and the secrets that are left untold about the current townspeople and their relationship to the murder and each other. Then a second murder! Susan takes us through the countryside of France, the idiosyncrasies of the neighbors and shop owners and the art of harvesting grapes to allow us to suspect the different characters with different motivations. Side stories of unruly children, teenage pregnancy, and gypsies lead us to some true and false conclusions while in the end, out of the shadows, Bam! comes the murderer. Susan gave us some insight into the characters: Conner was every ex-boyfriend that you wanted to kill and Laurent was the name of her first boyfriend. Susan lived as a young girl in France and was heavily influenced by what she experienced to bring some ���that���s the French��� to her writing. She has a new book coming out on March 24, Fear of Falling. ���Have you ever thought of how nice it might be to return to a world without smart-phones, endless TV access channels and pervasive video games for our children? Well it���s here.���

This is my favorite of the three in the series. Laurent and Maggie are in the south of France to spend a year on the vineyard Laurent has inherited. He "finds" a purpose for himself in hard work and landownership---and leaves behind his con man past. Maggie is embraced by the other expatriots-especially Grace and her husband Windsor, and the likeable scamp,Connor. Trying to find her own purpose in life, Maggie is rocked by Connor's murder and a murder fifty years previously. She decides to investigate the old murder and, in the process,Connor's murder is solved. As in the author's other books, I am filled with questions-why does Taylor have to be such a brat and what was the purpose of the question about Grace's baby's paternity? The ending is surprising--at least to me--and as in the other books, I am anxious to learn more about the continuing adventure of Maggie, Laurent, and their friends and family. The main mystery is resolved, but the little questions remain to be explored.
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I adore France and having spent extensive time there, I expected this book to be set in a town much like those I know. Instead, the environment seemed more secluded than I expected. Evening upon evening passed with friends while enjoying fine food and good wine embodies the French culture. I just didn't sense that warmth in the book. Not that it is a big deal since it is not a tourism guide, but a mystery novel. Which brings me to another thought, I didn't feel that the story was compelling. Usually, when I am reading a mystery, I stay up all night once I have read past halfway, but with this book, I set it down each evening after a few pages and easily went to sleep. Sadly, I set it down several months ago and forgot all about it, now I cannot even find the book. If you prefer slow-paced mysteries, this might be just the book for you, but in my experience it was not what I expected out of a mystery novel set in beautiful france.
tMaggie Newberry quit her advertising job and moved from Atlanta to southern France while her boyfriend, Laurent, tried to plan what to do after inheriting a vineyard from his uncle. The plan was to spend a year there, harvest the season’s grapes, and decide what to do with the land and the house. While a few of the villages were welcoming, some definitely were not.tMurder à la Carte opened with the grisly murder of a family of four at the house in 1946. Many villagers told them living there will bring bad luck. The story proceeded with descriptions of the harvesting and wine making processes. As they celebrated the opening of the new bottles, another murder occurred in the house. Maggie found herself in trying to solve it, thinking there might be a connection between the two events. tSusan Kiernan-Lewis has an eye for detail and offered a lot of descriptions of people and places. Her writing was fluent, occasionally providing some interesting observations: “Maggie fished out a croissant from the paper bag, depositing shingles of pastry all over the car.” “Its awning stretched out like green-vined tendrils, the fringe fluttering like so many languid, dirty fingers wagging a him.”tThis book is the third of a series. I read it first and felt the short explanations were sufficient to fill in what was necessary except for a concentration camp reference.tThere are several grammatical errors and an excess of French words, mostly untranslated, seemingly peppered around with no apparent rationale. The medical diagnosis at the end should have been discovered decades earlier.tI read the previous book when I finished this one.tThis book was a free Amazon download.
This is the second book in a trilogy. I enjoyed it. The first book was set about half and half between France and Atlanta. This one is set entirely in France where Maggie Newberry and her boyfriend, Laurant have settled in a small village in Provence for what is to be a year at a small vineyard that Laurant has inherited. Maggie and Laurant immediately get caught up in the lives of the villagers, as well as a small community of American ex pats who have also settled there. They find themselves the owners of property with a sad history of a murder, then there is a current-day murder at the vineyard. Could they be related? The mystery part of the story is well-written with a lot of twists and turns which kept me guessing. The romantic storyline is a little less satisfying, as at times, I felt that Maggie and Laurant were just too mismatched to be happy with each other, but then, their differences are many, language, culture, background. In the end, it was a satisfying read. Looking forward to reading the third and so far, last in this series.
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