DEATH IN THE TRUFFLE WOOD - Pierre Magnan
I used to read a few cosies, although I was never totally addicted. But I've always been a huge fan of the quirky, odd and the just ever so slightly bats. Colin Watson, Charlotte MacLeod have been favourites for years. I'm adding Pierre Magnan to the list now.
Originally published in French in the late 70's, DEATH IN THE TRUFFLE WOOD was translated into English around 2005. There are a number of books in this series featuring Commissaire Laviolette, although I don't think Roseline makes an appearance in any of the others. Roseline is a truffle hunting pig, and a creature that has made me pine for a pet pig in a way that you simply would not think is possible. Mind you, I never thought I'd want a dachshund either, but this book made me rethink that as well.
On the outskirts of the small village of Banon, a group of outsiders have established a small hippie community. As they start to disappear Commissaire Laviolette is sent to investigate, but nobody is prepared for the discovery in the freezer of a local hotel, when a wedding party is trapped by snow and extra food is called for. (Obviously the freezer would just have to be replaced!)
Soon Roseline is leading the police to a cache of more bodies, and forensic assistance is reluctantly called upon.
It's going to seem an odd thing to say, what with bodies littering hotel freezers and family vaults, but there was something really joyous about reading DEATH IN THE TRUFFLE WOOD. Refreshingly down to earth, quirky, almost tongue in cheek in some places, and just plain funny, DEATH IN THE TRUFFLE WOOD draws a vivid picture of small village life and the wonderfully individualistic people that all so frequently inhabit those places. Perhaps it is partially because of that setting, but there's no feeling of the story and the environment being dated - it's easy for the reader to assume that village life continues in that manner now, and as far back into the past as you want to imagine. Along with the murders, there's a fabulous outline of the clash of cultures - the villagers and their quiet existence, the outsiders and the effect that they have. Definitely a book for readers who are looking for something light, fun and just that little bit slightly bats!
In Banon, a small peaceful village in upper Provence, the local community's principal source of income is the cultivation of truffles. Outsiders rarely venture to this remote region, but a small group of society's drop-outs have chosen to set up home on the outskirts of the village. When one of them is found dead in the freezer of a local hotel, and when a further five bodies are discovered drained of blood in a family vault in the cemetery, it takes all Commissaire Laviolette's considerable resources to unravel crimes that have been committed in a climate of age-old superstition and secret animosity.