Murder on the Ile Sordou: Verlaque and Bonnet Series #4. M. L. Longworth. Viking Penguin Group (USA). September 2014. 320 pp. ISBN#: 9780143125549.
Maxime and Catherine Le Bon have invested everything they had and borrowed everywhere they can to create a lovely hotel resort on the Ile Sordou, a lovely island off the coast of Marseilles, France, on the Mediterranean Sea. Interestingly, the author reminds the reader that the Ile is the place where author Alexandre Dumas placed his novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. Business, however, for the owners of our present luxury resort isn’t great at all, a fact which troubles them immensely; but for now they are occupied with providing a wonderful experience for their present guests. Some of the owner’s employees are here because they have found a perfect job in a gorgeously beautiful place and others see it as a stepping stone to greater service in a more well-known hotel in one of the major French cities. Some of the Ile’s inhabitants are strange folk who provide food to the hotel and provide an aura of mystery to the area. And then there is the motley crew of guests who have arrived to relax and enjoy the Ile’s beaches, boats and unique meals presented by a creative and talented chef!
We meet Judge Antoine Verlaque (Aix-en-Provence’s examining magistrate) and his sexy girlfriend, law professor Marine Bonnet. Their only desire is to enjoy each other without any reference to their legal work. They meet Eric Mannier, former teacher and poet, on the boat traveling to the Isle. Mannier normally is rather reserved and while on the Ile seems totally focused on writing his poetry as the days progress, much to the wonder of his fellow guests. Shirley and Bill Hobbs are Americans visitors who are obsessed with luxury and design but are friendly and unassuming to all. Alain Denis is a former famous film star now reduced to making dog food commercials appears with his “Botox” wife, Emmanuelle, and his son Brice who seems like a very angry young man.
The remainder of the story moves from the characters getting to know each other, gossiping as they get to know each other better, and then being minutely examined after one of them is found dead on a nearby beach, shot up close in the forehead. It reads like an Agatha Christie mystery novel, for sure, and is creatively and carefully plotted, drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the attempt to solve the murder mystery before the police do so. And no, you probably won’t be able to do so either, but that won’t stop you from trying as the author elicits your obsession with the solution to this unforeseen crime!
Very nicely plotted with a perfect medley of characters and intrigue added to the mix! Well done fourth mystery in this Verlaque and Bonnet series!