Excerpt from Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Death in Brittany

A Mystery

by Jean-Luc Bannalec

Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec X
Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2015, 320 pages

    May 2016, 320 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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The First Day

The seventh of July was a magnificent summer's day, one of those majestic Atlantic days that always lifted Commissaire Dupin's spirits. There was blue everywhere. By Breton standards, the air was already very warm for so early in the morning but it was a perfectly clear day. There was a distinct sharpness to everything. Just last night it had looked like the end of the world was nigh; heavy, low-lying clouds, ominously black and monstrous, had raced across the sky as the rain came down in torrents of biblical proportions.

Concarneau – or the gorgeous 'Blue City' as it is called to this day because of the gleaming blue fishing nets that lined the waterfront in the last century – was glittering in the sun. Commissaire Georges Dupin was sitting in the Amiral, at the very end of the bar, the newspaper spread out in front him as usual. Above the beautiful old covered market building where you could buy fish fresh from the sea every day (whatever happened to find its way into the local fishermen's nets early that morning) the round clock read half past seven. The very traditional café and restaurant where he was sitting, a former hotel, was right on the waterfront opposite the famous old town. The ville close had been built on a small, flat island that lay like a picture postcard in the large harbour surrounded by strong walls and towers. This was where the languid River Moros flowed into the harbour.

Dupin had spent his whole life amidst the glamour of Paris, but two years and seven months ago he had been 'relocated' to this remote backwater due to 'certain disputes' (as the internal memos had put it) and ever since then had drunk his petit café in the Amiral; it was a ritual as delightful as it was inflexible.

The rooms at the Amiral still had that wonderful atmosphere reminiscent of the nineteenth century when world-renowned artists, and then later Maigret, had stayed there. Gauguin once got himself into a brawl right outside after some sailors insulted his extremely young Javanese girlfriend. The Amiral had gone downhill over time, but then twelve years ago Lily and Philippe Basset – both from Concarneau but whose paths happened to cross in Paris – decided they had other plans and took it over. And they had made something of it again. It was indisputably the secret hub of the village. As atmospheric as it was, it was still authentic – no fussy decor or folk music here. Most of the tourists preferred the 'prettier' cafés further down by the large square, so one usually had the place to oneself.

'Another coffee. And a croissant.'

Lily could tell from the Commissaire's expression and abrupt gestures just what her customer wanted, despite the fact that he had muttered his order to himself rather than saying it out loud. This was Dupin's third coffee.

'Thirty-seven million – did you see, Monsieur le Commissaire? It's up to thirty-seven million now.' Lily was already standing at the espresso machine, which was one of those ones that made proper noises. It still impressed Dupin every time he saw it.

Lily Basset was perhaps in her early forties, a very pretty woman with curly, dark blonde hair and boundless energy and enthusiasm. Those green eyes of hers were always watching. Nothing escaped her – it was truly remarkable. Dupin liked her very much, and Philippe too, who was the restaurant's absolutely superb, yet utterly unpretentious chef, even though neither of them spoke very much. In fact, perhaps that's why he liked them. Lily had accepted the Commissaire from the outset – which was a big thing here anyway, but even more so because Parisians are the only people whom Bretons consider to be true outsiders.

'Damn it.'

Excerpted from Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec. Copyright © 2015 by Jean-Luc Bannalec. Excerpted by permission of Minotaur Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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