The Curse of La Fontaine

Newlyweds Judge Antoine Verlaque and Marine Bonnet, a law professor, are settling into their new life together (and trying to decide whose apartment to live in). They are also enjoying meals at La Fontaine, a restaurant in their Aix-en-Provence neighborhood run by Chef Sigisbert "Bear" Valets. But when a skeleton is found in the restaurant's courtyard, Bear and his employees (including a refugee from Togo) fall under suspicion. And so, Verlaque and Bonnet attempt to solve an eight-year-old mystery in M.L. Longworth's sixth novel to feature the investigative duo, The Curse of La Fontaine.

Longworth (who began her series with Death at the Château Bremont) opens with the couple's destination wedding in a small Italian village, and returns to that day periodically throughout the book. But the mystery centers on the skeleton in the courtyard--that of a local young man--and his complicated connections to Bear and other characters. Though Verlaque is concerned about solving the case and bringing closure to the man's family, he finds plenty of time for other diversions, including Cuban cigars, fine wine and the delicate dance of new matrimony. Meanwhile, Bonnet, convinced of Bear's innocence, offers her apartment as a temporary pop-up restaurant space, causing Verlaque to worry about conflicts of interest, his own impartiality and the effect of this case on his fledgling marriage. Longworth's sun-drenched setting, quirky characters and leisurely narrative pace balance out the murder plot, while her mouthwatering food descriptions will appeal to Francophiles and foodies. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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