Murder At Cirey
By Cheryl Sawyer
NOTE: Before I proceed with the review I wish to compliment Ms. Hingley on her email request. It was one of the main reasons I chose to accept this book for review. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, I hesitate when it comes to historical mysteries even if they include real people. However, the email that introduced Ms. Sawyer and her book to me was a fine example of how, I think, request letters should be written. It made a fine attempt at connecting with the reviewer and gave a bit of her writing history, then gave an extended back cover blurb about the book. It also gave me a link to her website. So often I see a short one or two sentence email with the casualness of, “Hey, would you want to read and review my book?” No intro, no blurb, and the author makes me do research into what the book looks like and what it’s about. Most emails will have a link but no more. I appreciate the thoroughness put into Ms. Hingley’s request.
1735. The Champagne area of France. Where Victor Constant, military policeman, has been stationed. Where one day, the writer, Voltaire, finds the corpse of a murdered man. Who was a secretary of a nobleman and general. Constant begins his investigation and immediately runs into questions. How did the man arrive in the Cirey woods only to be murdered? Why was he there in the first place? And of course, the biggest question – who killed him? Constant’s investigations lead him to discover more to the murdered man’s life than at first suspected.
Of course it’s your standard murder mystery but authors must find a freshness to the old standards and this time it’s in the form of 18th Century France. And not just the time and place but to bring in actual people is a plus.
Victor Constant: military policeman with the title Cavalier, large frame, deep voice, grew up in Paris, cobalt eyes, has a sister, father committed suicide, mother dead
Francois-Marie Arouet De Voltaire: 41, writer, formerly in prison, brown eyes, short dark hair, wealthy
Albert Poirier; average height, solid frame, gamekeeper
Louis Tranchet de Sandre: magistrate, light eyes, fifties, lean, married with two sons
Gabrielle-Emilie Du Chatalet: late 20s, Voltaire’s lover, married, has children, plays the harpsichord, husband a soldier
Christine Verrat: fair hair, slender, father is a draper, plays the harp
Beauregard: ranked a Lieutenant, thin, pointy head, small ears
Olivier Frenot de Caradoc: A Prevot-General
Not too much physical descriptions of some of the character, but some of them I could imagine just by their title and bearing. A nice mixture of characters both military and civilian, even religious.
Voices come through really well, especially Voltaire’s. A little high brow mixed with intelligence and his wonderful use of words. Again, sometimes characters can be rounded out by their dialogue so I’ll let it pass without too much of a black mark on the lack of physical descriptions because of the conversations and voices. At least for me, I could picture every character.
Each chapter is a day. Some unnecessary profanity.
One misspelling of a name.
One of the things that does make historical mysteries enjoyable is the science of the times and how it can be used to solve a crime. In this book, there is an early form of a ballistics test.
The author presented 18th Century France pretty well. The action was what I expected. Constant did a lot of running around from town to town but I don’t think the story dragged.
I was a bit disappointed that Voltaire didn’t play a larger role. At one point he was almost upstaged by his lover in the detecting. I thought maybe Voltaire might play a Watson role to Constant or at least a pesky sidekick.
On the whole, a very well written book and a good murder mystery.