Death in Pont-aven by Jean-Luc Bannalec
German crime novel
Original title - Bretonische Verhältnisse: Ein Fall für Kommissar Dupin
Translator – Sorcha Mcdonagh
Source -review copy
When I receive the email from Hesperus press about this the first two things that caught my attention in the blurb was the setting for the Novel the Breton region in France an area that has always interested me as it is quite distinct from other parts of France and the other thing was the main character was a Caffeine junkie and anyone that knows me well knows I love my coffee so I knew I would feel some if as little part of kinship with Commissaire Dupin .Now who is Jean-Luc Bannalec ? Well he was born in Brest ,his father was A Breton and his mother was Germany ,he lives in France and Germany .Although it well may actually be the name is a pseudonym of a a well-known German Publisher Jörg Bong this was mention in a piece about the books runaway success in Germany in Die welt newspaper .
Dupin had spent his whole life amidst the glamour of Paris ,but two years and seven months ago he had been “relocated” to this remote backwater due to “certain disputes ” (as the internal memos had put it ) and ever since then had drunk his petit cafe in the Amiral ,it was a ritual as delightful as it was inflexible .
Dupin left Paris under a bit of a cloud .
The book is set as I said in Breton ,more specific in the small sleepy town of Pont-Aven where Commissaire Dupin a grumpy Parisian whom has for one reason or another end up in this quiet back water ,where he has chance to sit in cafes all day drinking endless cups of Latte and watching the world go by .When one day the 91-year-old owner of a local hotel is found dead and it is all rather gruesome this makes Dupin investigate what appears a classic closed room murder ,but as he goes through the crime and the people surrounding this well-known village that had for years been a home for many famous artist ,we discover the is more than meets the eye to the crime .
The pool pf blood looked grotesquely large to Dupin .It had spread out in a shapeless mass across the uneven stone floor .Pierre-Louis Pennac was a tall man ,thin ,wiry ,with short grey hair .An imposing figure even at ninety-one years old .
The body of Pierre-Louise is found in the hotel he had worked as manager since 1947
Now this fits in the classic crime thriller genre Dupin maybe could be best compared with Andrea Camilleri and his well-known detective Montalbano .They both investigate crime in a different setting than expect Breton isn’t so well-known and similarly Montalbano is in Scilly which other than it mafia connection is relatively unknown .They also both like to sit in Cafes in Dupin case and of course in Montalbano it is in the restaurants eating .Jean-Luc has also used a classic type of case for his début the closed room case a person dead in a locked room and no sign of how they died this has been a staple of the crime novel from the start when Poe used it in murder on the Rue morgue .So as you see this has all the hallmarks of what makes a great crime novel and it is in parts it is quirky than most crime novels I’ve read in translation the last couple of years .
Do you have a favourite setting for a crime novel ?