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Maureen O'Brien

Time Warner pbk £6.99

Reviewed By
Mary Andrea Clarke

Detective Inspector John Bright needs a holiday. At least, the combined efforts of his Detective Chief Inspector and his girlfriend Jude persuade him to take one. The threats he has received following his exposure of police corruption in his own force also play their part.

The trip which Bright and Jude take to France proves eventful in a number of respects. An inexperienced foreign traveller, Bright has to depend on Jude to act as guide and interpreter. Both are startled to find him in the role of suspect when the fiancée of their hotel landlord is found murdered. On the other side of the fence, with a legal system and language he doesn't understand, Bright is vulnerable but it doesn't stop him trying to work the case.

The French legal niceties seem well researched and there are some vivid descriptions of the holiday scenery. A lot of time is spent in building up to the main events, right down to arranging for Bright's mother to cat-sit. Even before the murder, the trip seems to be putting a strain on Bright's and Jude's relationship, as we can see in their jealousies and bickering. She is also irked that he is always thinking like a cop.

Most of the action seems concentrated in the latter half of the book. The murder investigation progresses under the supervision of Judge Folin, the juge d'instruction, who allows Bright some input to the case. The description of the murder victim's injuries could afford to be less detailed, as could one or two other heavily specific scenes. However, O'Brien does a good job of conveying the emotions of her characters, especially through their posture and body language. This proves effective in building the atmosphere of the novel.