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Nightmare in Burgundy
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|Nightmare in Burgundy
By Jean-Pierre ALAUX and Noël BALEN
Publisher: Le French Book
Genre: Whodunit / Cozy mystery / Detective
from the publisher for a
virtual book tour on France Book Tours
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MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
As Le French Book says of its website, “The Winemaker Detective series of cozy mysteries has over twenty books to it and has also been adapted into a hit television series in France known as ‘Le sang de la vigne’ [Blood of the Vine], with French actor Pierre Arditi.
Le French Book has already translated and published 3 of them, all presented on France Book Tours: Treachery in Bordeaux, Grand Cru Heist, and now Nightmare In Burgundy.
Having spent myself many years in Burgundy, a region full of history and cultural connections, I was really looking forward to read this short cozy mystery. I had a great time revisiting places I know very well (Dijon, all the villages along la route des Grands Crus, les Hospices de Beaune] in the company of Benjamin Cooker, the winemaker detective, who here leaves his Bordeaux region for Burgundy, to become an official member of the renowned Knights of the Tastevin at the famous Clos de Vougeot.
Originally founded in 1703 as the Ordre de la Boisson (Order of the Drink), and resurrected under its current name in 1934, the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (translatable as Brotherhood of the Knights of the Wine-Tasting Cup) is an exclusive club of Burgundy wine enthusiasts. It is headquartered in the twelfth-century Château du Clos de Vougeot in the Côte d’Or region of France. It maintains chapters (called Sous-Commanderies) worldwide, but because of its Gallic origins, its name and many of its ceremonial titles are always rendered in French.
read more about it here and visit its gorgeous website
But the night after the ceremony, they discover mysterious Latin graffiti on walls nearby. The graffiti multiply here and there, and the curious Benjamin connects with local people and scholars to figure out what’s going on.
The mystery was kind of cool – you know, you don’t often see Latin graffiti quoting psalms – and knowing the Psalms in Latin, I knew before Benjamin what these texts were. I also enjoyed a lot the meetings with a monk of the abbey of Cîteaux, a place very dear to my heart.
And it was neat to read “A land of silence where a man keeps his word” [loc. 432], though it would have been better to have a note saying this was actually a quote by the current abbot Dom Olivier Quénardel. Very familiar with this text in French, I recognized it right away.
And the description of wine and wine tasting sessions were delicious!
Before noting a few things that went wrong, I have to congratulate the translator for turning the Tastevin motto “Jamais en vain, toujours en vin” [never in vain, always in wine] into “Never whine, always wine”!
There’s a delicious meal described [my kindle screen 158]. As for the cheese included in this meal, I would have expected the awesome Cîteaux [especially as the character goes there later on]. This Cistercian abbey is very close to le clos de Vougeot. Instead, they have cheese from la Pierre Qui Vire, Benedictine monks also in Burgundy, but much further West, not even in the same département.
Maybe you have experienced reading in the newspaper or a magazine, about an event in which you were closely involved. The jest of the story is there, but usually, there are lots of inaccurate details. This always baffles me. I experienced something a bit similar here:
- Cistercians monk do not, and have never taken, a vow of silence. Silence is very important in their daily life, but there’s no vow for it. The 3 vows of the Cistercian monks, since 1098 until now have always been: obedience, stability, conversion – If you read French, my 25 classes on the Cistercian Order are available online.
- The Moslesme Abbey is NOT at Cîteaux. But it’s monks from Molesme [2 hours, North West of Cîteaux] who came in 1098 to found the new abbey of Cîteaux.
- the cathedral of Dijon is not Saint Benedict/Benoit, but Saint Bénigne. Saint Benignus was a martyr from the 3rd century, way before the monk Benedict of the 6th century.
VERDICT: Nightmare in Burgundy is a delightful short cozy mystery, perfect for all wine aficionados with a detective mind. It provides also great tourist ideas if you plan a trip to Burgundy
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist
when he is not writing novels in southwestern France.
He is a genuine wine and food lover and recently won the Antonin Carême prize
for his cookbook La Truffe sur le Soufflé, which he wrote with the chef Alexis Pélissou.
He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking.
For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine.
He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective series,
which he coauthors with Noël Balen.
Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music.
He plays bass, is a music critic
and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
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Alexander McCall Smith is one of my favorite authors of Cozy mysteries!
I have to say, I tried his first one and had a hard time
I just finished H.R.F. Keating’s “Body in the Billiard Room”, which takes places in India and M.C. Beaton’s Death of a Policeman. I don’t know if you would consider them cozy mysteries, but I enjoyed both. It was the first Keating book, that I have read, and I have read all of M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth books and Agatha Raisin books.
thanks for sharing, sounds great ideas
The Flavia de Luce mysteries are wonderful. Love the era and the setting.
I have been hesitating on those, need to look at them again then, thanks!
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