Murder in Aix-en-Provence

Parlez Vous Murder, cozy mystery, author, Susan Kiernan-Lewis

Murder and Broken Hearts in Aix-en-Provence

Which is worse? Having a last name like HOOKER, which opens the door to stupid, tiresome jokes. Or getting dumped by her long-term boyfriend? Just as she was mentally shopping for furniture in anticipation of a proposal. Or finding a murdered girl in France?

Jules Hooker bounces right into our reading day to update on her crappy life. Jules came off to me right away as goofy! At first, I was concerned that this would be a book overusing the word CRAPPY. Then, I read about her life in June. Crappy was appropriate.

Who Cares if She Speaks French?

Jules chose to give herself heartbreak therapy in France. That means a two-week trade of her condo in Atlanta for an apartment in Aix-e-Provence. A heart-healing two-week stay. Imagine being free to absorb the light and air as seen by Paul Cezanne and other artists! 

The French apartment turned out to be in Chabenel, a wee village in the ‘commune’ of Aix en Provence.  Not a short walk from the city to a hovel that in no way compares well with the luxury Buckhead condo. The resident cat doesn’t like her. Heartbreak therapy is fast turning sour. Limited funds keep her from going into the city of Aix for a better rental.

Murder in Aix-en-Provence France.

Just as Jules lands close to the bottom of her discouragement, neighbors knock on the door.  Elderly Madame Becque and Madame Cazaly, have lost their cat.   They are accompanied by Merci Joslin who can speak some English.   Merci is another neighbor in the apartment building. 

Jules and the elderly twins overcome the language barrier. Jules takes on the task of looking outside for their “petite chat’.

Following the cat into a weedy alley, Jules reaches to grab her.  And finds an arm!  There is a body buried in the weeds. Who is it and who is the killer?  Is that weird guy on the street as guilty as he looks? 

Stumbling out of the alley to a cafe, Jules calls for help. In the chaos, everything STOPS.  Her cell phone is dead. Cars stop in the streets. People stream out of the cafes and shops.

A nuclear EMD (electromagnetic pulse disturbance) has exploded in the Mediterranean.  Going forward, everything is non-tech.  No electronics in cars, no cell phones, no lights, no cooking,  no internet. The destruction seems to be worldwide.

It seems as if the murdered girl is not the highest interest for local investigators.  Jules can’t stop trying to solve the crime. Luc DeBray, local police chief, discourages her involvement. 

Candlelight and Neighbors

Jules’s crappy apartment is suddenly a comfort. She and the elderly twins share food. Merci joins them, bringing her brother, Guy.

When alone in the dark, Jules worries about how CeCe is getting along in Atlanta. Will she get the promotion that Jules will likely miss? Is the promotion a reality? And of course, the ex-boyfriend, Gilbert. She can’t wish the worst on him. How about the Poupards who are enjoying her Buckhead condo? Are they getting along in a different culture?

Guy has an English speaking friend, Thibault, a ham radio operator. Thibault will be able to contact America for information.

Hints of romance point at both Guy, and with the local sheriff/head of police, Luc.

As the story progresses, the killer is a surprise as are his defenders. Even more surprising are Jules’ defenders.

Jules finds her perception of people is snobbish and immature. Those she trusted are the least trustworthy. Those she suspects are innocent.

As the story progresses, the killer is a surprise as are his defenders.  Even more surprising are Jules’ defenders.

Jules finds her perception of people is snobbish and immature. Those she trusted are the least trustworthy.  Those she suspects are innocent.

Doomsday with Sparkle

I sort of expect to learn that Jules wears glitter. The attitude in the face of being dropped into the non-tech past is warm and supportive.  

Parlez Vous Murder, Susan Kiernen-Lewis, author.

I usually dodge ‘end-of-the-world/new-normal’ fiction.  Often portrayed in a desperate survival situation, the  focus on risk, lack, competition, and fear just isn’t my reading.  The general attitude is so upbeat that one tends to forget the probable devastation of a Nuclear Electomagnetic Disrupton — NEMD.  

Can Clean and Violent Live Together?

Parlez Vous Murder has no vulgar language or explicit sexual content.  There is some violence, including the murder. There is a murder which was violent. Jules is pushed into the canal. She is assaulted  by the murderer and his defender.  They plan to kill her. Her defenders are rougher and tougher than the murderer 

Over-The-Top Sweetness and Light

I liked this ‘crappy’ book! Let’s be clear about that. 

I thought it odd, but funny that she sometimes wore her stilettos out on the streets. And she’s the luckiest girl in France to have access to more than enough cheese. She can get more pastry from a paltry supply of euros than I expected. 

 The community seemed to have the resources for lots of pastries, wine, and cheese, but little water. A generous supply of candles, lamps, and flashlights bring light on their backward life. (I don’t want to talk about my stash of candles)That the mayor didn’t like her. I thought maybe that would go somewhere with the murder, but it was only a red herring.  The mayor was a bit of a caricature. But she keeps getting re-elected.

The people were remarkably good about taking care of the elderly and needy. The entire apartment house was sort of a food commune. There was always plenty when necessary, even though there was thievery. Jules learns to barter quickly. The ex-pat population in Aix seems to be a misfit. I think it is a lead-in for another book in the series. 

Viva la France

The author has a section of her website, SUSAN KEIRNAN-LEWIS dedicated to food because she likes food and cooking, especially French cuisine.  A good cozy revolves around food, but Parlez Vous Murder is unusual because the base is not a bakery, cafe, caterer, or other food business. The EMD approach is unique and pleasant.

Additionally, the author is a product entrepreneur with a shopping page that features products that fit the trends and topics of the stories. Some are distinctly French. There can be no doubt that the links are affiliate links.

I should not be surprised that a busy author has no time to blog. And, perhaps it doesn’t make a serious difference in the volume of book sales.

Not all of her books are available in audio format. She does have a page featuring those that can be enjoyed as audiobooks. You can learn more about this France-lovin’ author at her Amazon Sales Page. Enjoy the community at her Facebook page: AUTHOR SUSAN KIERNAN-LEWIS

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