Martin O’Brien, ‘Jacquot and the Fifteen’

A French policeman gets invited to a billionaire’s villa in the South of France for a reunion of the rugby team for whom he once scored a famous match-winning try against England at Twickenham. Then he finds that his team-mates start dying. That’s enough of an unusual set-up to get me to pick a book of the library shelf without much hesitation.

I haven’t read any of the other books in Martin O’Brien‘s series, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they all featured the food and landscape of the South of France as heavily as this one does. There are times when the author seems to be part crime novelist, part travel guide and part food enthusiast. But it’s none the worse for that (after all, Donna Leon‘s Venetian crime novels not only give me the sense that I can explore the Venice behind the tourist trail but also taught me how to peel garlic).

I found the hero’s relationship with his gorgeous new girlfriend to be a little cloying and it clogged up the plot a bit occasionally. I also found the denouement less satisfying than I’d hoped. But overall, not a bad read.

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