Tuesday, 17 May 2016
I have very much enjoyed the first book of Allan Massie's quartet of crime novels set in occupied France, discovered thanks to Cornflower's husband, who galloped through all four in a week - much faster than I read these days, but I'm looking forward to the next in the series. This first book opens in 1940 with the collapse of France and a decent policeman, under orders to collaborate, finds himself increasingly unable to hold off from shabby compromise. Towards the end, seeing his son reading one of Simenon's novels, he wishes that things were as easy for him as for Maigret ... and he does remind me of Maigret, but this is a new order and there are no right choices - people still have to live and if he resigns from the force, or gets kicked out, worse bastards will take his place. Meanwhile, Massie captures all the atmosphere of France, bars and brasseries and slugs of Armagnac in one's coffee and lunches of partridge with red cabbage and a nice St-Emilion - well, I do like books with food and it reminded me that the one and only time I ever visited Bordeaux was the only time I ever tasted lampreys. Highly recommended. The book, that is. The lampreys were interesting.