Monday, March 12, 2012
Book Review: Death in the Truffle Wood (1978) by Pierre Magnan
If Magnan's novels sound like travelogues, they aren't. His mysteries are too weird and nasty for the kind of twee, mystery travelogues some writers produce. In fact, the sheer oddness of Magnan's plots makes up for the lack of a mystery attached to them. In The Messengers of Death Magnan had a murderer who dressed as a Napoleonic soldier, and in Truffle we get a flock of bodies turning up in a crypt. The deceased were all killed by being bled like pigs. The reader can't possibly guess who the killer is, but the quality of the writing makes up for that. In one chapter, for example, Magnan dovetails the activity surrounding a large wedding reception with the discovery of a body in a hotel's freezer; it's a wonderfully written sequence that would be interesting even without the addition of a murder.
I can't say that Truffle rates highly as a straight mystery, but as a novel that captures the flavour and spirit of Provence it's highly successful.