More Enid Blyton than Raymond Chandler

This is my review of L’Absence De L’ogre by Dominique Sylvain.

The mysterious death of a rock singer in the Parisian parc Montsouris seems to have some connection with the plan to sell off a convent as luxury apartments. Although his motivation is unclear, suspicion falls on the "absent ogre", a chainsaw-toting gardener and sometime friend of American Ingrid Diesel, with the rather implausible occupations of masseuse and striptease artist. Her attempts to solve the crime are aided by her wine-guzzling retired detective friend Lola Jost, with whom she has worked in earlier novels, but are a constant irritant for Sacha Duguin, the driven detective who finds it hard to delegate, yet is of course irresistibly attracted to the feisty Ingrid. A nostalgic thread runs through all this in the form of extracts from the journal of the wandering C18 botanist who stocked the convent garden, the wonderfully named Louis-Guillaume Giblet de Montfaury.

The author Dominique Sylvain is very popular in France, and I certainly found the book good for improving my knowledge of French idioms, clichés and "argot". I managed to avoid confusion by noting down the names and roles of all the characters as I met them. However, I found the plot quite boring. The book is rambling and corny, with too many stereotypes, too much "telling", too little development of some key characters and several implausible links in the clunky chain of events.

⭐⭐⭐ 3 Stars

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