book review: the messengers of death

by Pierre Magnan

A retired inspector is brought out of retirement to help the local Judge figure out what happened as people start dropping like flies. They all receive a letter in the mail that says one thing: The measure that you give will be the measure that you get. Avarice. This French book covers the topic of avarice with abandon. I did not know what the word meant when I first started reading. Just in case you don’t know: greed. The book explores the greed of towns, ideas, histories, and most of all people.

The mystery takes place in Provence, at the base of the Alps. The descriptions of the regions are at odds with that well-known American book about Provence, A Year in Provence. It sounds cold and desolate and someplace I don’t want to visit for any amount of time.

I enjoyed the book, as I am enjoying translated works a lot recently. But I felt a little set apart from the characters. I had a hard time identifying with them. And while many footnotes helped the foreign reader understand cultural references that would be lost without these footnotes, I felt like I still missed a lot of references. In any event I feel like I learned a bit, and while the book might not be something I would normally read, I enjoyed it.

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