Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Fireworks in France (Reverend Annabelle Dixon #7), by Alison Golden

Alison Golden, March 2021

Police Inspector Mike Nicholls is trying to plan a hopefully-romantic vacation with his beloved Reverend Annabelle Dixon, when Annabelle's lifelong friend, Sister Mary, shows up unexpectedly. There is, she says, a problem at the convent where she has been living, in the tiny French village of Ville d'Eauloise. Specifically, a murder.

Of a priest. And her dear friend, another priest, is the chief, or rather the only, suspect.h But he can't possibly be guilty, and can Annabelle and Mike help?

They decide to spend their week of vacation in France, of course.

The French police inspector for the district, Charles Babineaux, initially seems like an ego-inflated fool, and he and Mike, to say the least, do not hit it off. There's more to him than meets the eye, though, and despite his own initial hostility, Babineaux decides that with his limited resources, two more experienced investigators are not to be turned down.

At the convent, and in the tiny village, they meet quite an impressive variety of people, including the Welsh owner and chef of the only restaurant in the village, and Sister Simone, the convent's gardener, herbalist, and chief baker. Simone is wise, gentle, and kind, and has even been baking a loaf of rye bread a couple of times a week for months, for Father Julien (now deceased), because it's his favorite, even though the convent bakery is not otherwise making any rye bread.

Father Raphael is missing, a major reason he's the suspect in Father Julien's death. Julien and the Mother Superior, Renate, may have a history together, prior to religious life. Raphael was a fashion model before the priesthood. Mary may be having doubts about her vocation. The two younger nuns, Veronique and Josephine, are both a little odd in their ways.

It's a fun, entertaining light murder mystery, with romance further enlivening it.

And I'm just being cranky when I note that the village's professional religious community, thirteen nuns and two priests, has no less than six of them engaged in varying degrees of questionable activity. Including the theft of the church's casket containing the relics of the saint the church is named for. This is, I am sorry, a farking big deal, and it's used only to create a possible red herring in the murder. But, after all, consider the death rate in Cabot Cove, Maine! One must allow some improbabilities, and beyond that, I will bite my tongue.

Definitely a fun book, with, it's fair to say, progress in the relationship of Annabelle and Mike. Enjoy!

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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