The Charlemagne Connection
R. M. Cartmel
Crime Scene Books, May 26 2015, $13.99
In Nuits-Saint-Georges, Burgundy, Madame Blanchard informs the Gendarme that German tourist Horst Witter is missing. Constables Lenoir and Montbard find no evidence of foul play so assume Witter found either a companion or a job; so they close the case and move his abandoned camper to their compound.
Vintner Simon Marechale calls Paris-based Commander Truchaud informing him that his Alzheimer’s inflicted father urinated on a neighbor’s vines. Obtaining time-off, Truchaud heads home to Nuits-Saint-Georges to consult with his widow sister-in-law on what to do. However, though on leave, his supervisor and the town’s mayor arrange for Truchaud to fill the vacant Municipal Chief of Police position temporarily. Not long after that, Horst’s sister Dagmar and her traveling companion arrive looking for him. Needing someone fluent in German, Truchaud arranges for Paris-based Sergeant Natalie Dutoit to join him. Soon after her arrival, Dutoit and Truchaud investigate what happened to a badly decomposed corpse found in the nearby woods.
The second Commander Truchaud French police procedural (see The Richebourg Affair) is a pleasant leisurely-paced mystery. The sleuthing is limited as Truchard’s family and other personal issues supersede the inquiry; which takes off late in the storyline. Feeling more like a transitional middle book, The Charlemagne Connection still provides readers with an interesting glimpse into life amongst the vines of Burgundy.