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Disclaimer: Please note I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
When I spotted Death and Croissants on the Duckworth Books Spring Catalogue, I knew I had to read it one way or another. What an ingenious title.
When I got it in the mail, it definitely did not disappoint. Ian Moore’s Follet Valley mystery was my first book of 2022 and it definitely got me out of the inevitable New Year’s reading slump.
I loved almost everything about it: from the setting to the two protagonists, to the intriguing plot. Anything to do with France is a win for me. So when I saw the blurb and realised Death and Croissants is a great Englishman in France kind of story, it was an instant coup de coeur.
French is my favourite language and I studied it extensively for most of my life, including the culture, cuisine, history and geography of France, for a complete and complex understanding of the subtilities of the language.
I’ve lived in the North of England for five years now and I’ve become very familiar with the British culture, notably their famous or, rather, infamous, dry humour becoming one of my favourite things about the Brits.
So Death and Croissants is the perfect crossover of the two foreign cultures I love and understand the most.
From the Publisher
Richard is a middle-aged Englishman who runs a B&B in the fictional Val de Follet in the Loire Valley. Nothing ever happens to Richard, and really that’s the way he likes it.
One day, however, one of his older guests disappears, leaving behind a bloody handprint on the wallpaper. Another guest, the enigmatic Valérie, persuades a reluctant Richard to join her in investigating the disappearance.
What I Loved About the Book
Ian Moore’s mystery is described as “the most hilarious murder mystery since Richard Oseman’s The Thursday Murder Club” and for good reason.
I laughed out loud so many times while reading it. And I think that’s what I loved the most about this book.
Genre crossovers have become really popular in the bookish world in recent years. But combining comedy and crime fiction is a proper ambitious feat, so all the more praise to Monsieur Le Moore for bringing it to life.
I absolutely adored Richard, with his ridiculously monotonous life, his constant moodiness and his love for vintage movies. Valérie’s tumultuous and glamorous entry into his life becomes all the more necessary, therefore.
Valérie is a true character who ticks all the stereotypes of being French. Her entire existence is the most À la française thing I’ve seen in modern fiction. With her carefree demeanour, her adventurous spirit and her effortless attractiveness, complete with her ridiculous dog, Passepartout, Valérie is one of the most absurd and charming characters I’ve seen in a while.
Despite their differences, none of these characters takes themselves too seriously, a trait I’ve noticed in all the side characters too. And the lightness of the book comes from that: you’re supposed to take everything with a pinch of salt.
What I Didn’t Like
I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I loved almost everything about this book. That almost comes from my slight disappointment with the mystery side of the plot.
While I enjoyed Richard and Valérie’s adventures in uncovering just what had happened to the mysterious Monsieur Grandchamps and Richard’s beloved hen, Ava Gardner, I had trouble buying the story.
This wasn’t such a big letdown, though, because I enjoyed myself copiously while reading the book, so I didn’t mind that the mystery felt a bit weak. There were times when the plot felt like it was retelling one of Richard’s old secret agent movies, but somehow I can’t fault it too much because it worked as a whole.
The humour, the setting, in rural France, and the absurdity of the entire story, made me think less harshly of how the mystery finally unfolded.
All in all, Death and Croissants proved to be a great reading experience, an effective way to defeat a reading slump and a hilarious little mystery with ridiculous characters. If that sounds like your cup of tea, I’d definitely recommend it for a light read.
The paperback version of Death and Croissants comes out on 1 April.