pierre durand, chef de police, and the provence

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Pierre showed her the sheet with the recipe, which by now was in a plastic cover. “This was attached to the wine tank where they found the dead man.” He paused and watched her reaction.
“On the tank?” The cook glanced at the paper, then shook her head. ….
“I suspect that the murderer wanted to make a somewhat idiosyncratic statement by doing this.
Coq au vin, you know? A cock in the wine.”
“A pun?” She gave a short laugh. “Are you telling me it was meant to be? That’s absurd.”
“Absurd, yes, one might think so. However, the dead man had a
bouquet garni around his neck, and it was made of herbs listed in the recipe.”
She widened her eyes in astonishment, then fell silent, looking out into the open air. “Murder as a culinary synthesis of the arts,” she finally whispered. “Who would think of such a thing?”

from: Provenzalische Verwicklungen (own translation)

He can’t let it go …

Pierre Durand pulled off his career as a detective superintendent in Paris and started a new life as chef de police in a small town in Provence. He was in his early forties at that time. In the meantime, the bachelor has settled into his new home and enjoys his life, especially, it seems, the culinary side.

It doesn’t look like his work is challenging him … rather the contrary. There’s a lot to do, but it’s small stuff compared to his previous job in Paris. There is a lot of administrative stuff … He has only little support, but somehow everything goes his way.

Is he happy?

Whenever the opportunity arises to slip into his old role as a detective superintendent, he does so without hesitation. Although as chef de police he is not responsible for criminal cases, he is quite happy to take care of all cases that lie within his territory – and of course also cases that lie beyond his jurisdiction. His colleagues, who are responsible for these cases, are not amused, but in the end Durand always solves his cases with flying colours.

His cases … they are rather strange cases.
One man is drowned in a steel wine barrel. Another is shot with buckshot while running stark naked through the forest. There’s someone drowning in a perfume tub … Someone gets an electric shock when he touches a cooker … The cases are all a little bizarre, but in the course of events it becomes apparent that family ties, old enmities, envy of successful fellow human beings, revenge against evildoers who always got away with it … form the basis from the past – for deeds that are currently happening.

Durand wanders around in this minefield of family, personal and business relationships, usually looking in vain for a starting point at first. When he comes across something, he can sink his teeth into a solution, but sometimes he is simply wrong. The search for the perpetrator, who sometimes strikes several times to conceal his deeds, always turns out to be complicated, but certainly not boring. Everything always remains within a very manageable, Provençal framework – so there are no excursions into international terrorism, arms dealing, drug dealing … The crime is local, regional and stays within the family or business environment.

Privately, Durand is still a bachelor, even though there is now a partner who is slowly conquering him, so that he finally thinks about proposing to her. At the beginning, he lives in a small flat in true bachelor fashion, then he moves into a house in need of renovation. The renovation slowly takes its course – with the help of many locals who have meanwhile become accustomed to their chef de police. With the house also comes a roommate named Cosima, a goat.

On his very first case, Durand meets this very nice woman, a cook, an excellent cook, who runs the place in a renowned hotel. Durand falls in love, she falls in love, but it takes time for them to get together. The advantage is that every detective novel contains a few recipes for French specialities, especially Provençal specialities.

Incidentally, Cosima bonds quite quickly with a billy goat, so there are soon offspring. The production of homemade goat cheese is at least secured in this way.

The author of the series is German and fell in love with France and Provence. So it was only logical for her to set her crime series in Provence. So the reader can sit back, relax and enjoy the adventures and delicacies of Provence – and dream about holidays in the south.

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