Irritable, dyspeptic Inspector Evariste Clovis Désiré Pel did not need another murder case added to his already Herculean workload, especially not this ghoulish business of a mutilated, headless corpse, the anonymous victim of a desperate and determined killer. Yet, if the murder was so deliberate, so well-planned, why was the identity of the dead man obscured?
Pel’s investigation moves from Burgundy to the frontier and back again, stirring echoes of the horror and trauma of the War – and meeting a blank wall of non-cooperation so far as the murder is concerned. The trail is muddied by mistaken identities and ancient grievances, driving the chain-smoking Inspector close to distraction. Until, amid the cloud of acrid Gauloise smoke, Pel sees a ray of enlightenment and closes in with his inimitable savoir faire.
Moody, sharp-tongued and worrying constantly about his health, Inspector Pel ensures that no case goes unsolved, in these mordantly witty French mysteries.
Praise for the Inspector Pel Mystery series:
‘Totally convincing.’ Financial Times
‘Mr Hebden has created a nice band of flics.’ Oxford Times
‘Pel and his procedurals are some of the best things since Maigret.’ Observer
‘Chief Inspector Evariste Clovis Désiré Pel, as well rounded a character as Maigret or Van der Valk.’ Punch
‘Impeccable French ambience, unexaggerated flics, and a well-constructed solution. Hebden proves again that few understand Gallic cops better than English writers!’ The Times
‘Some characters grow as their saga lengthens and Pel… is one of them. You might say he is ripening along with the grapes.’ Police Review
‘…written with downbeat humour and some delightful dialogue.’ Financial Times
‘…all is most cunningly contrived and dovetailed into a coherent plot.’ Irish Times
‘A thoroughly entertaining read.’ Evening Standard
‘The best Gallic sleuth since Maigret.’ London Mystery Selection