The Murdered House
Minotaur, Nov 10 2009, $24.99
He was raised in an orphanage and fought for the French during WWI. When the armistice ended the fighting, Seraphin Monge returns to his hometown in the Alps where he finds work as a road-digger. Two women Rose Pujol and Marie Dormeur are interested in the muscular Seraphin.
However, he also learns about his biological family. When he was three weeks old in Provence, someone murdered his parents, his grandfather and his two older brothers in their family home back in 1896. Three Herzegovinian losers were arrested, convicted of the brutal homicides and executed. With what he now knows Seraphin believes the visiting trio was convenient scapegoats to close a case and perhaps conceal the real culprit’s identity. At his family home La Burliere, the spirit of Seraphin’s mother demands he learns the truth. He tears apart the insides until he finds evidence that implies three leading citizens: Gaspard Dupin, Rose’s father Didion and Marie’s dad Celestat are the most likely killers. Seraphin plans vengeance, but someone else murders Didion and Celestat; and that person may be stalking Seraphin.
This is a strong post WWI historical mystery that brings to life two periods: the post war and the late Victorian Era in France. The cast serves only to support Seraphin on his quest for the truth that morphs into a thirst for vengeance. Obviously disturbed and haunted by the murders of his family whom he was too young to know and the opulence those who apparently got away with the act, Magnan is the only developed character as each new revelatory discovery shakes his bone marrow and leaves him further desiring blood. Fans will appreciate Pierre Magnan's third taut suspense thriller printed in the United States (see The Messengers of Death and Death in the Truffle Wood), as the audience will wonder what the seemingly maniacal Seraphin will ultimately do.