“The Messengers of Death. A Mystery in Provence” by Pierre Magnan


I loved the beginning of this book:

“On the gate of the cemetery at Barles, there’s a postbox. When you climb up the pebble-paved road, you can see the slot from quite a distance away. The right hand half of the gate is lit up like a smile by this carefully delineated mouth with a drip channel at each end for the rain to run off.

Many burials have passed thorough when the two sides of the gates are wide open, without anyone giving a thought to this slot. It looks out of place, although it’s perfectlt natural when you come to think of it. Actually, the thing itself – a postbox – is so ordinary that no one notices it.

During the 1960s, however, the murderer with fine handwriting sometimes used this letterbox. It was very old even then, the bottom had fallen out and the door was loose. On blustery days, when the mistral whips around the Couar Peak as if it were the sails on a ship, this little door would gently rattle on its hinges.”

I liked the bleak weather and the bleak characters, and even the just as bleak family stories were fun to me. And the conclusion was interestingly weird. If you ask me what DID irritate me during the reading, I can only point out the description of pubic hair – two women described at different points of the book as having “tightly knitted little curls like chain mail”. Then again, these women were relatives, so may be they should have their pubes described with same words?

Still, all together, it was a bit much for me. Even if I read it during sunny summer.

Would I recommend it? Depends. As the story has remained in my mind and I have even retold some points of it (and I generally avoid retelling pieces of fiction). But one should keep in mind the general bleakness and not expect an American kind of thriller.


“The Last Enemy” by Grace Brophy

Read as part of the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge 2014.

I am quite a fan of crime fiction, yet I rarely have anything to say about the crime fiction I read.

I did enjoy both the setting and the characters of this story. The exotic Italian town of Assisi, the snooty aristocratic Casati family, the gossipy maid, the damaged immigrant worker from former Yugoslavia, the lusty catholic priest … Counted out like that, the cast reminds soap opera, yet I did enjoy the result. Also, it was thought provoking what the author had done with the victim, the 45 years old American-Italian “little Rita”. Even if, it looked like, the author did not trust she was able to SHOW what she intended about Rita, so there was a bit of telling to keep the reader on the right track.

And here, unfortunately, I have to stop, as my further contemplations would contain spoilers and, as I do recommend the book to others, so no more …