This is a book in search of an identity.
The cover art would indicate this is a cosy Peter Mayle type book. The reviews on the back of the book indicate that it is a political thriller. Further research reveals that in later printings they change the title from A French Country Murder to Le Crime. Ahhh well I would much rather read a book called Le Crime. The lurid blue cover gives the book more of a feel of a political noir book. The reason for the confusion by the publishers is frankly the book is confused. I'm not sure what type of book Peter Steiner set out to write, but it has the feel of maybe he was working on three different books suddenly found himself with a pubishing contract and decided to mesh the books together.
We have the French country murder book which actually the body in question was murdered at Charles De Gualle airport in Paris not in the French countryside. We are introduced to a country detective and get a very brief sketch of our main character Louis Morgon.
Book two is a travel memoir of the French countryside. I'm thinking that Peter Steiner spent some time in his youth back packing across France and had some fond memories of that time so he couldn't help, but add that to the plot of this novel. He has this scene with a gypsy guy that had weird overtones of Jean Genet. He danced with the heavyset innkeeper's wife and felt strangely aroused. Every thought or scene seems unfinished.
Book three of this slim 242 page volume is a political thriller where out of the blue, after twenty years the Secretary of State of the United States decides to get even with Louis for a preceived slight. The ending of this bizarre plot is not only unsatisfying, but hardly believable.
Steiner throws in a crippled gorgeous French girlfriend with fused bones in her back, a bit of Jim Thompson at work here. She is married to a "pyramid" of a man and finds our man Louis totally unresistable.
At the end of the book Louis's daughter visits him in France even though she has been suffering from abandonment issues which frankly may have been a gift because I don't see Louis even attempting to be father of the year. The daughter throws a tantrum at the end of the book and refuses to go to the music festival with her father to meet his friends because it reminds her too much of the reasons that he left her in the first place. Again a totally unsatifactory scene that felt unfinished and I found myself wondering why put this scene in if really it serves no purpose.
If this review seems convoluted it really isn't my fault. This is the way the book reads. It was a struggle getting through the last 46 pages, but I was still hopeful that Steiner would pull the rabbit out of the hat. I liked parts of it, but they were so buried under the mishmash of the books identity crisis that I really don't see myself giving Steiner another chance in the follow up book L'Assassin.