Katherine Goff and her musician husband, Michael, have lived in Reigny-sur-Canne in the Burgundy region for three years now. Despite her French language skills, Katherine still feels isolated. And, the insecure artist is desperate to fit in with the villagers. She tries hosting the village fete, an art show, pushes Michael to perform. But, nothing seems to work until an elderly resident dies, falling down the steps of his chateau. Then, everyone flocks to talk about the death. Rumors fly. Katherine desperately tries to stop the gossip, while still trying to stay involved. It's too late. The gendarmes are still investigating. But, it must be Nazi assassins, tourists, or Gypsies. None of the villagers believe one of them could be behind the death.
The story is as much about Katherine's desperate attempts to feel as if she belongs, as it is a mystery. She tries to mother a teenage girl, daughter of the local thief. She tries to host a luncheon, with disastrous results. Her attempts to please the elderly woman who rules over the village only lead to criticism. For a while, it seems as if every conversation Katherine has ends in an argument.
As Katherine seeks approval, Jeannette, the teenager, watches everyone. She knows the village secrets, and holds the key to the true story of the old man's death.
Love & Death in Burgundy is a dialogue-driven account of the day-to-day life and squabbles in a small French village. As I said, it's an atmospheric mystery with humor and gossipy townspeople. Cozy mystery readers might enjoy the setting and characters.
Susan C. Shea's website is www.susancshea.com.
Love & Death in Burgundy by Susan C. Shea. Minotaur Books. 2017. ISBN 9781250113009 (hardcover), 288p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.