commissaire mazan, a cat in provence

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While Commissaire Mazan slept on his blanket, limped to the loo or to his food bowl, Zadira studied the stolen case files, talked to Djamal on the phone, read or thought aloud to herself.
She was a little embarrassed. Because she actually started talking to the cat like a colleague. She told him about her research in Bédoin, Venasque and Monteux, where three young women had been murdered in the same bestial manner as in Aubignan in recent years.
“But nowhere here is there anything about recent cat murders,” she said as she leafed through the files. “Isn’t that strange? Or did your colleagues just not notice?”
They both jumped in alarm as Zadira’s mobile phone began to spin around on the kitchen table, buzzing, flashing and vibrating. The policewoman stood up.
“Sergeant Brell. Good morning,” she spoke into her mobile phone.
“I wouldn’t say it like that, Lieutenant Matéo. We’ve got a ten-seven.”
A hot wave of adrenaline shot through Zadira’s body.
“I’ve already called the doctor on call and Public Prosecutor Lafrage,” Brell reported and gave her the address: Rue de l’Ancien Hôpital number 9, “A house with red shutters.”
It would hardly take her a minute to get there.
“The … er, dead woman is in the garden. And so … damn. She’s badly mangled.”
The dead woman? Badly mangled?
Bédoin. Venasque. Monteux. Aubignan. And now Mazan?

from: Commissaire Mazan und die Erben des Marquis
(own translation)

Cats are Always Better Investigating

A stray, feral cat aka flea circus roams through Provence and eventually finds his way to Mazan. There, half-starved, he rescues a cat from a rain barrel in which a bad person was trying to drown it. But the cat simply disappears without saying thank you. That’s life!

He meets Lieutenant Matéo, who is looking for the retired teacher’s little missing cat, and is at least treated to a few morsels of tuna pie. Of course, our stray finds the little runaway and brings him to Lieutenant Matéo, who promptly christens him Commissaire Mazan because of his investigative skills.

Despite the idyllic setting, cat life in Mazan is rough. The cat community of Mazan doesn’t exactly welcome our little Commissaire Mazan with open arms, but he manages to gain respect, even if he is seriously injured in the process.

Lieutenant Matéo is called into action again, forging a tender bond with the town’s new vet, Jules Perceval, via Commissaire Mazan – and Commissaire Mazan finds a home. But the sweet cat life in Provence comes to nothing …

Commissaire Mazan and Mazan’s gang of cats have to keep order and set people straight to help them solve crimes, protect them – especially Lieutenant Matéo – from harm and also protect themselves, because a cat killer is sneaking through the narrow streets. Things are about to get very busy in Mazan!

What a commissaire! I was thrilled when I was finally able to read a cat thriller (again!). In this series, the worlds of cats and humans are intertwined. While the cats understand everything that the humans say and think, the humans are sometimes a little slow on the uptake. The novels are set in the human world, of course, and the cats stroll around in it.

Lieutenant Zadira Matéo, 33 years old, a half-Algerian and drugs investigator with the Police Nationale, has been transferred to the godforsaken village of Mazan in the hinterland. There she meets Sergeant Lucien Brell from the gendarmerie, who has been keeping order in Mazan as a one-man show and is otherwise intensively involved in his lovely wellbeing and his small wine business. A genuine, deep friendship quickly develops between the two. Even though one of their first tasks is to look for the retired teacher’s lost little cat, they soon lose their cool.

A dead young woman keeps Zadira and Lucien busy. Zadira stumbles across an elite circle of Parisians who regularly revive the festivals and rites of the Marquis de Sade in Mazan. But did the circle, or at least one of them, really kill?

Zadira then tracks down a serial killer in whose deeds a famous painter and his entourage appear to be involved. At the same time, Lucien makes discoveries of a culinary nature: influential people, or those who think they are, are looking for a thrill in unusual menus which, according to the law (because of animal welfare!), should not be served at all.

And finally, Zadira’s past catches up with her in Marseille: she is the victim of an assassination attempt and has to go into hiding seriously injured. The perpetrators could be criminals, but also corrupt colleagues from her own ranks.

Zadira lives through all these criminal cases and adventures with the help of Commissaire Mazan and his feline pals, who always know how to be on the spot in time and realise many things that people ignore, forget or don’t want to hear …

Always at Zadira’s side is Jules, the vet, who fled from Paris to Mazan because he wants to escape his successful father, his conservative family and an unloved fiancée. Jules naturally falls in love with Zadira and eventually … although Zadira keeps resisting … But Jules is determined, so determined that he risks his life and limb for Zadira after an attempt is made on her life.

Who is Zadira? She is half-Algerian, grew up in the immigrant neighbourhoods of Marseille, tough, intelligent and suspicious. Extremely suspicious. She has seen and experienced too much evil – and not just in her youth in those neighbourhoods where racist police officers like to raid and pick up anyone who seems suspicious because of their skin colour. That’s why she’s afraid to trust anyone, which doesn’t make her relationship with Jules easy. But that’s also why she became a police officer.

So far, we seem to have a series that reads well on holiday as a relaxing read. To a certain extent this is true, but there is something more. We don’t find the famous Murder for Pleasure in any volume of the series, but the cases are more realistic.

We are dealing with the excesses of the rich, powerful upper class in Paris. Corrupt, arrogant police officers live out their prejudices, especially against women and immigrants. The French mafia pulls the strings in the background. Local heroes think they are invulnerable. Obsessed people murder because they believe they have to kill or because they want revenge. The murders are frighteningly realistic against the backdrop of tranquil, romanticised Provence.

When will the next volume be published?
After all, Commissaire Mazan has now become a father several times over and has successfully suppressed his urge to go travelling time and again …

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare