Paris in July: Murder on the Ile Sordou

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When I was a young bride living in Europe, I would often take the time offered to teachers in the summer to flit about my favorite countries. I would put on a shade of Chanel lipstick, which is no longer made, named Explosion; it was a brilliant fuschia which matched my maillot de bain perfectly, and somehow I felt quite comfortable on the beaches of the French Riviera wearing ridiculously bold colors. It was the 1980’s, after all.

Along the coast of the Riviera is a most beautiful city named Aix en Provence. which is about 30 km north of Marseille. It is here that the author of this mystery, M. L. Longworth, writes when she is not teaching in Paris. Her novel Murder on the Ile Sordou takes place on a fictitious island, but one that may resemble any of the islands off the coast of Marseille, and it is a novel with more ambiance than any mystery I have read.

While it may resemble the writing of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, or Donna Leon’s Venice, this mystery has a quality all of its own. M. L. Longworth brings France in general, and Provence in particular, to life with her dialogue, her setting, and her characters. Even the meals which they enjoyed after a two hour afternoon nap seemed indescribably delicious.

I’ve made a summer menu, so let’s just forget about the storm out there: we’ll begin with cucumber and melon gazpacho and then red snapper ceviche shooters, followed by vegetable spring rolls. Once we’re sitting we’ll eat roast bass with olive oil, mussels, and cherry tomatoes, and, finally, in honor of our meat-loving host, a rack of grilled lamb with stir-fried summer vegetables, wasabi puree, and a cilantro-mint vinaigrette.

A loud round of applause rang out. “And not to forget dessert,” Emile said, holding up his hand.” A chocolate cake served with fresh strawberries and vanilla bean ice cream, surrounded by a concoction I call ginger and lavender drizzle.”

Oh, the lavender in Provence! The seafood! The cresting waves of the sea on a summer evening…I was there in an instant, enjoying the remembered sensations even more than the mystery itself.

If I should tell you about the mystery, I would spoil the surprise. You must read it yourself to discover which of the guests who have arrived by boat will be murdered and why. But, while you are reading of the case to be solved, you will be immersed in the culture, and for me that was the most special aspect of this book.

 

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15 thoughts on “Paris in July: Murder on the Ile Sordou”

  1. I might have to add this one to the wishlist, Bellezza. It sounds absolutely delightful. Just the thing for a summer’s afternoon, maybe with a glass of Cotes de Provence Rosé on the side.

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  2. It’s always great to discover things, books included, that bring back such beautiful memories. I haven’t travelled further than Grenoble in the south but to my mind, every scenery in France is exquisite 🙂

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  3. This sounds engaging and fun.

    My wife really loves these kind of books. Plus she loves most things French so I think that this will be right up her ally. I will recommend it to her.

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  4. M, sounds like you quite a time in France 🙂 As for this book, you make it sound like such a treat to read. I need to get my hands on a copy ASAP!

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  5. This was one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read. I too have had the fortune of spending time ontheRiviera and was transported for a few minutes while reading it. Thank you and thank you for the lovely cupcakes

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  6. I *finally* started this series and loved the first book. I wrote about them on my blog (with a tiny shout-out to you 🙂 ) Thank you again for this review, and happy new year!

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