The one I found tepidly cold

Louise Penny, Dead Cold (UK), A Fatal Grace (US) 2006

Find me grumpy or just your typical French killjoy, but I have to say upfront that I didn’t enjoy this book, however hard I tried.

My reasons for trying hard were that it came recommended by Marina Sofia, that I have never read a mystery set in Quebec (Fred Vargas’ doesn’t count) and that I’d love to discover a comfortable new crime series (I have just finished Broadchurch Season 1 on DVD, and part of my grumpiness may be attributed to withdrawal symptom).

My reasons for disappointment were probably linked to a faulty translation, because the French voice of the story sounded clunky and dry. Sometimes it used French-Canadian words but it was not written in French-Canadian, which made it neither fish nor fowl. It stopped me from really enjoying the setting, a quaint little Canadian village with suitably quirky characters. I found the narrator’s voice too explanatory and the red herrings rather fat.

After a rather long setup, the murder scene is quite convoluted: an insufferable snobbish woman dies electrocuted while watching a curling game on a frozen lake. How is it only possible? I had a hard time to suspend my disbelief and I couldn’t get past that bad French aftertaste. Another stumbling block is that this book is the second in a series (it was the only one available), and a lot of characters and circumstances seem to have been introduced in the first book, so it seems almost a must to read the series in order.

One very nice point to the book was the atmosphere of coziness and warmth, and the funny jokes underlying the difference between the English-speaking and French-speaking communities. Maybe it might be worth a try in the English version.

Too bad, Inspector Gamache! I would have loved  to love you. Maybe our paths will cross once more…

3 thoughts on “The one I found tepidly cold

  1. Aaaah, what a shame you weren’t taken by it! Funnily enough, this was the first Gamache book I read too (in English though), and I do regret not reading them in order. I hope you will have the opportunity to try them again at some other point. Yes, they have been translated for the Quebecois readership from English – and not modified for the French audience in France.

  2. Pingback: The one with the weirdest anatomic trivia | Smithereens

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