Book: The French for Murder
Author: Verity Bright
Pub Day: May 30th 2022
Buy Link: Amazon: https://geni.us/B09SZSXT2Lsocial
A grand villa, croissants for breakfast and a dead body in the wine cellar… Lady Swift can’t seem to take a vacation from murder!
Summer 1923. Lady Eleanor Swift is finally persuaded by her butler, Clifford, to take a villa in the south of France for the season. She plans to do what a glamorous lady abroad should: long lunches on the balcony followed by lazy afternoons lounging by the pool. Even Gladstone the bulldog is looking forward to a daily paddle in the ocean.
But when Clifford examines the wine cellar, he discovers there are no decent reds but there is a very dead body. The victim is famous American movie star Rex Armstrong. Poor Rex seems to have been stabbed with a sword from the film set. So how did he end up in Eleanor’s villa?
Before Eleanor even has time to change out of her travelling suit, her beloved butler is arrested for the crime. At sea without her right-hand man, Eleanor must gather her wits if she’s to outsmart a murderer and save Clifford.
Attending a glitzy party at the luxurious Hotel Azure with the film’s cast and crew so she can question her main suspects, Eleanor overhears the director having a most unsettling telephone call that throws all her theories out of the water. Can Eleanor unmask the true killer before her time abroad is cut murderously short?
A gripping historical murder mystery full of charm and intrigue, set in the beautiful French Riviera. Fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey and Lee Strauss will adore The French for Murder.
I just love Lady Eleanor! She’s taking a little R and R on the French Riviera, along with Clifford, her canine companion Gladstone, and her staff. Nothing is on the agenda except some fun and sun. She doesn’t believe Clifford when he tells her that there’s a dead body in the wine cellar of their rented villa. And she really can’t believe it when the French police arrest none other than Clifford for the dirty deed.
Bless her heart, Ellie can’t get away from crime-solving even on her vacation. The officer handling the case, Inspector Damboise, knows they don’t really have anything on Clifford. His incarceration is largely at the behest of Mayor Lessard, who would rather see an innocent Brit take the fall than risk upsetting the boisterous American movie folks who are in town (and no doubt bolstering the local economy by rather a lot). After all, the dead man is one of those movie folks. Mayor Lessard doesn’t even want word to get out that the man was murdered for fear of putting all Americans (and their money) off the idea of coming to his little seaside town. A deal is made. Clifford can go free, but only if Ellie finds evidence to prove who really committed the crime.
Inspector Damboise joins forces with Ellie and Clifford as they all work to solve the murder. There are seaside jaunts, lavish parties, and hair-raising twists aplenty as Ellie discovers that many people had good reason to dislike the dead man and even want him dead. Can she put the pieces together and identify the killer before Clifford is thrown in the clink for good?
Verity Bright has gifted us with another delightful read! Ellie is sharp as always, and even with the threat of prison hanging over his head, Clifford keeps his cool and does his best to keep Her Ladyship in line. They offer such a charming contrast to each other. Clifford, so proper and so mindful of doing things correctly. Eleanor, such a free spirit and so not bound by the expectations for her class and gender (she reminds me a bit of Phryne Fisher in the Miss Fisher Mysteries). In this story, though, we get a little peek at Clifford’s backstory, and that’s a lot of fun. Has our butler always been as buttoned up as we usually see him? How HAS he picked up so many diverse and interesting skills? Read and find out!
And my goodness, what descriptions of the Americans come to town! They rented out an entire hotel, threw over the top parties, and generally made spendy nuisances of themselves. After reading about those shenanigans, I could see why some Europeans might think of their American cousins in less than flattering terms. That’s a lifestyle that just sounds exhausting to me.
The mystery kept me guessing, as each new clue that seemed poised to blow the case wide open invariably came to nothing, more than once. Bright does a great job of keeping multiple options open and then bringing them together in a flash of brilliance, just in time. I did miss Hugh Seldon in this book. He only made his appearance by telephone. I hope their time apart gave Ellie and Hugh a new perspective on their relationship, and maybe we’ll see things progress a little more between them in the next book!
An engaging story, a beautiful setting on the French Riviera, lots of action, witty dialogue, interesting characters, and an ending that I didn’t see a mile away. This would be a great summer read, and I highly recommend it for cozy mystery lovers!
Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s.