by Gerald Jay
Nan A. Talese, ISBN 978-0385535489
June 19, 2012, 336 pages
Want some international intrigue..or how about a paid assassin? Or maybe a book set in Canada..and Paris..and Germany and in a small rural town in the Dordogne River region of France. Throw in some corporate espionage and a young American woman being hunted by a killer and then top it all off with a classic French detective in the vein of Poirot or Maigret, clever but bored, flawed but dogged.
Yes, in this book you can have all that and more. It almost sounds like overkill, too much to include in a believable plot, but somehow Gerald Jay (a pseudonym) is clever enough to pull it off smoothly and produce a quite entertaining book.
This is more a thriller than a mystery, in that we know from the first pages who the hired killer is, Klaus Reiner. Or at least, that is the name he is going by at the moment. We witness his execution of a blackmailer as he gives her just one sharp shove down an empty elevator shaft, so clean, so neat, just like he likes things. And then we are there as two former French agents hire him to kill a tourist who will be vacationing with his wife and friends in the fictional village of Taziac. He has a clever plan but things go a little wrong and he ends up having to kill all four, an American and a Canadian couple, in a particularly gruesome way, a crime too loud to be covered up quietly as he promised those who hired him. So he needs to do some cleanup as well. He attempts to set up an Arab handyman for the crime..the man is an admitted thief and wife beater..and the regional police may have bought it, but when Inspector Mazarelle is brought in, it is a different story. Mazarelle was a very successful police inspector in Paris, but moved to Taziac so his dying wife could be at home for her last days. But she is now gone and the inspector is very, very bored with the petty crime of the area. This is the challenge he is looking for! Then to make the hitman's task ever harder, the daughter of the one couple, an ADA from NYC, arrives to identify her parents bodies and she too is after the identity of the real killer. So much for the killer to clean up now.
The real mystery, not clear at first in that pile of bodies at the vacation house, is who the intended victim actually is and who and why he was wanted dead. That's where all that international intrigue comes in, with twists and turns, until all working itself out quite neatly at the end. A suggestion...do not double cross a hit man after you hire him. It will not work out well for you.
This is the first book in a series, with a sequel promised in the near future. And I tell you, when it comes out, I will be reading it. Mazarelle is at the heart of this book and he is a great character, with his big mustache, his taste for a nice cognac and a plate of his favorite duck confit in the evening and his kitty, who better hope he has one of his nine lives left. The setting, mainly in the French countryside is delightful, even with a few neo-Nazis running around and the plot moves along at a good, believable pace to an exciting climax just made for the big screen.
My thanks to Amazon Vine for providing a copy of this book for review.