When artist Katherine Goff and her musician husband, Michael, moved from their California home to Reigny-sur-Canne three years ago, Katherine thought it was finally her chance to live a simple, carefree life among close neighbors in a charming French village. The locals, however, turned out to be resistant to outsiders, particularly foreigners.
In attempt to get in the good graces of Madame Pomfort, an elderly widow who holds sway over the village’s social scene, Katherine persuades the mayor to allow her to organize the annual Feast of the Assumption, the success of which Katherine is convinced will finally win her Madame Pomfory’s blessing.
Her carefully laid plan is derailed when Chateau de Bellegarde owner Albert Bellegarde is found dead early one morning at the bottom of a staircase in the chateau. Though Albert and his wife, Adele, have lived in the village for decades, his German linage prevented them from ever fully integrating into village society. Adele reaches out to Katherine for comfort, and Katherine finds herself drawn in to the mystery surrounding Albert’s death.
Did he merely slip and fall down the steep, poorly lit staircase in the middle of the night, or did something more sinister occur in a village where everyone seems to be hiding some secret?
Love & Death in Burgundy, the first in a new series from Susan C. Shea (Dani O’Rourke mystery series), vividly brings to life the quirky denizens of Reigny-sur-Canne. While it’s Katherine’s goal to be accepted by the locals, she is also surrounded by other “rejects” and fish out of water such as herself. From Pippa, the English ex-pat Agatha Christie wannabe who seizes on Bellegarde’s death as fodder for her novel, to fellow Americans JB and Betty Lou Holliday, both involved in the music industry like Michael, to local wayward teen Jeanette, known to be both a snoop and a thief, Katherine soon finds things aren’t quite so quaint and accusations fly when a potential murder is involved.
Francophiles and lovers of small town/village settings will appreciate the painstaking detail Shea has put into creating the atmosphere of Love & Death in Burgundy. From start to finish, Shea has generously peppered the mystery with French history, culture, well-used French words and phrases, and, of course, mouthwatering descriptions of the wine, cheese and other culinary delights for which the French are so well-known.
It’s summer, so treat yourself to a getaway to the Burgundy region of France for a little Love & Death in Burgundy.
Love & Death in Burgundy is available now from Minotaur Books.