St. Martin's August 2003, 23.95, 288 pp.
London detective John Bright is receiving threatening e-mails but they don't worry him because he believes they come from disgruntled police officers that are angry he took down some corrupt members of the department. When the e-mails start threatening his girlfriend Jude, he doesn't tell her but keeps a close watch on her. When she suggests they take a vacation together to France, he eventually succumbs to the pressure.
After a few fun-filled days they come to the Neufchatel village in the Jura region of France and book a room at the Hotel Sanglion. At dinner, the proprietor's girlfriend Mariela flirts with John but he ignores her. That night after Jude's asleep he takes a walk around the town and comes back to the room. The next day he is called in for questioning by the local authorities because Mariela is dead and someone saw him roaming the streets at night. The villagers, including the local police officers, would like nothing better than to pin this murder on a foreigner, but John teams up with an out of town official to find the real perpetrator and make him pay for what he did to him and Jude.
This is a very different but exciting police procedural because the crime takes place in France where the laws are much different than in the United States and the United Kingdom. One can't help but like and empathize with the protagonist who acts tough but has some vulnerable spots that make him appear endearing to the audience. This is a very gritty urban noir novel even though it takes place in a small rural village.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner