Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Murder in the Latin Quarter by Susan Kiernan-Lewis - #review

In the 7th Maggie Newberry Mystery, Maggie’s much-anticipated Paris holiday takes a dark turn when she ventures into the city’s famed Latin Quarter to visit Laurent’s ailing aunt—only to find a very healthy aunt and a very dead body. 

Does the murder have something to do with Aunt Delphine? Was she the intended victim? With her new baby daughter in tow, Maggie struggles to find the answers. In the process she learns more about Laurent’s family—and stumbles across a terrible secret that would tempt anybody to commit murder.

Can Maggie find the murderer without destroying the Dernier family name? And can she do it before the killer catches her in a dark, lonely alleyway in the Latin Quarter?



Maggie's husband, Laurent, has an elderly aunt who lives in Paris.  When they hear she has been taken to the hospital, Maggie takes their baby daughter, Mila, and goes to Paris to help out.  Maggie goes to Delphine's (the great-aunt's) apartment, to find her just peachy, but there is a dead body across the hall.  She introduces herself to Delphine, who is unaware that her nephew Laurent was even married, let alone with children.

Delphine's husband left her quite wealthy, and it seems everyone wants a piece of that pie, mostly through attempted intimidation of an old lady.  Michelle, Delphine's step-daughter, thinks she should get something from her father's estate and tries blackmail by saying that she will expose Delphine's dirty secret from the war (WWII).  Noel believes Delphine is his biological mother and is upset that she won't admit it. Amelie, Delphine's gruff housekeeper, turns out to be the grand-daughter of Delphine's best friend, whom she accused of being a collaborator with the Nazis, and who was summarily dragged out of her apartment by the Resistance and hung in a public sqare.

Maggie faces many more questions than answers, and those answers have had 70 years head-start being buried by those who would rather not hold onto those particular memories.  It seems the longer various characters held a grudge (and not saying that they didn't have cause), the more it drove them over the edge of sanity.

The beginning of the book seemed a little slow to me, but quickly picked up the pace when Maggie started looking for answers.  She began to suspect she was being followed, and a couple of times was chased around the narrow alleys of the Latin Quarter, and down into the catacombs, a maze of tunnels under the streets of Paris.  The walls of the tunnels were apparently built with the bones of the nameless dead from who knows how many centuries.  The action raced towards heart-pounding at that point, because Maggie was running through the tunnels with her daughter Mila in a carrier and strapped to her.

If you want to know whodunit, you'll have to read the book, because 1) as a norm, I don't do spoilers and, 2) it contains probably my one true fear, for which I'm pulling a Scarlett O'Hara ("I'll think about that tomorrow,")

The rest of the series (Latin Quarter is installment #7) is on my TBR now.  You've got all the atmosphere of a mystery, plus the added twist of an ex-pat living in France, and trying to navigate that (which to her is a) foreign culture.



I am an author, advertising copywriter, playwright, video editor, mother, wife and intellectual equestrienne (that means I love them more in spirit than I actually ride them these days) As a writer, I take my passions–horses, France, cooking, travel, and writing–and put them in my books.

Because of my background as a military dependent, I have  a restless nature and tend to move about frequently. (I’ve lived in over 40 addresses so far.) No doubt because of that, every one of my books involves a protagonist (usually an everyday, average woman who soon learns what strength and courage she’s capable of under the right circumstances) who is dropped into a foreign environment. In keeping with my fascination with the  theme of a stranger attempting to function in a strange land  I’ve happily moved into the area of time travel, which is, after all, the ultimate in foreign environments.

I suppose I’m intrigued by those parts of our personalities that we need in order to assimilate into a new place or situation. Having done it so many times throughout my childhood–new base, new billet, new schools– I find I long for the charge of excitement that a new situation offers. (I’ve read that adult ex-military dependents can go one of two ways–either they’re determined after all the moving around to stay in one spot  or, like me, they can’t stay still.) In any case, I find using my fiction to fulfill my desire to be someplace exotic (i.e different) helps keep me from hammering FOR SALE signs in the front yard every six months. And for that, my husband–who doesn’t have the same level of wanderlust that I do–is immensely grateful.



Have you ever visited France and if so, what was your favorite thing there?


This book helps me to fulfill the following 2018 Reading Challenges:
Mount TBR RC (received 9/2/2017, read 1/2/2018; reviewed 1/3/2018)
Cloak and Dagger RC
COYER Winter Switch
Reading Assignment RC
Alphabet Soup RC

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