xoxoxoe, #26, Death at the Chateau Bremont, A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery, M. L. Longworth, #CBR3

Here is an excerpt from my review of my #26 book, Death at the Chateau Bremont, A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery, by M. L. Longworth, on my blog, xoxoxo e:

In the course of their investigations the two also turn up possible links to the Corsican and Russian mafias as well as consume some wonderful wines and travel to the Cote d’Azur. The mystery is involving, and all of the people that Verlaque and Bonnet meet along the way are interesting, but the main charms of the book lie in their dance around each other and all the little details of life in southern France. No matter how pressing the case may be, Verlaque always has time for a multi-course lunch and some good wine. He is a connoisseur of not just wine and food, but also fine cigars.

There is a wonderful scene with Verlaque’s cigar club that illustrates how the French know how to indulge in such pleasures. Their lives are measured in what they eat and drink and how they talk and joke with each other. There is always time for an espresso, or to meet a friend at the local cafe for a glass of wine in the evening.

As Pierre, one of the cigar club members who isn’t independently wealthy, muses as he drinks fine champagne, “He closed his eyes and sipped, as if he was enjoying every bubble, and in fact he was. Bookstores didn’t — couldn’t — pay well, and being in the cigar club was his sole luxury. He repeatedly told himself that he would happily eat beans and rice all week in order to smoke hand-rolled Cuban cigars once a month with his group of friends.” It’s all about priorities. Longworth, like author Alexander McCall Smith, is good at writing about the little things that make life worthwhile, that indeed should be the bigger things in life.

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