Murder Visits a French Village

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Pub Date 07 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 28 Feb 2023

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"Not since my first visit to Louise Penny's Three Pines, have I encountered a more beguiling fictional world than Susan C. Shea's Reigny-Sur-Cannes" Catriona McPherson, award-winning author on Dressed for Death in Burgundy

Ariel Shepard is devastated by the sudden loss of her husband, but nothing could have prepared her for inheriting the rundown French château they'd visited on their honeymoon four years ago. With finances tight she has no choice but to swap her Manhattan apartment and city lifestyle for a renovation project in a peaceful French village.

When Ariel hires an expert to help her uncover the legacy of her beautiful ruin, life only becomes more complicated. Christiane, the historian, is found dead in the moat, and although the local police aren't suspicious, Ariel is. She joins two other ex-pats, Pippa and Katherine, to investigate, but with plenty of workmen - and errant tools - around the  château, many people had the means, but who had the motive? Why would anyone want to kill a historian?

Ariel begins to suspect that her French village life will be anything but peaceful! Can she solve the suspicious murder and make her château in Burgundy the perfect new home?

"Not since my first visit to Louise Penny's Three Pines, have I encountered a more beguiling fictional world than Susan C. Shea's Reigny-Sur-Cannes" Catriona McPherson, award-winning author on ...

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Featured Reviews

While it is easy to solve the mystery early on, the characters and setting are so charming I did not mind. I hope this series continues!

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The first in the Château in Burgundy Mystery series has a fascinating setting. The Château de Champs-sur-Serein most likely started its existence as a medieval fortress, but now it's a neglected, rundown edifice with an impressive tower and an empty moat. It's also a gift that Ariel Shepherd's husband, Dan, had planned to have restored before surprising her with it. Sadly, Dan died suddenly before he could carry out his plans.

When Ariel discovered its existence, she sold their condo, gave up her teaching job, and hopped on a plane for France for what would become the next phase of her life. Naively believing restoration of the château could take a year before she could rent out the bedrooms to travelers and even host cooking classes, Ariel was soon enlightened by her new expatriate friends, American Katherine and British Pippa, as to the lackadaisical speed of such things in the French countryside. Undaunted, she hires roofers, electricians, and carpenters and obtains Sorbonne scholar Christiane Breton's assistance with researching the history of the château for a brochure that Ariel plans to write and distribute to her future customers. But when Christiane is found dead in the dry moat under suspicious circumstances, Ariel doesn't know whom to suspect but knows she must reluctantly rely on the local gendarmes to solve the case.

My favorite part of the book, which is the focus of the story, is the intimate and detailed look at what it takes to restore a historical building and the French inheritance laws. I also enjoyed the well-plotted mystery and the diverse characters. Readers of the author's French Village Mysteries will recognize Katherine and Pippa from those books, but this book can be read as a standalone with Ariel as the protagonist in a new series. The author is also an expert at bringing the French countryside to life in her books, and I'm hoping to read more about Ariel's adventures once the château is open for business.

My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.

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This book was sent to me electronically by Netgalley for review. Thanks to the publisher and author. Intrigue and mystery…characters who come alive on the pages…what will happen next? This is a quick fun read. This talented author has written a mystery that comes to a satisfying conclusion. Enjoy

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A fun mystery in an appealing setting…

I’m a sucker for mysteries set in France, so I was thrilled to receive an advance review copy of Susan C Shea’s Murder Visits a French Village. And I liked it a lot.

As the story opens, Ariel Shepard’s husband, Dan, has just passed away. And, she finds out, unbeknownst to her, he had recently purchased the run-down French chateau they had visited on their honeymoon, intending to have it refurbished as a surprise present. Due to inheritance squabbles, though, Ariel ends up “land-poor” - with the chateau, their New York apartment, and not much else. Something has to change, and Ariel, who learned French at university, picks the French countryside over New York. So she sells the apartment to fund the refurbishment of the chateau, with an eye towards setting up as a bed-and-breakfast once the renovations are complete.

From here, we follow along as Ariel discovers that: (1) inheritance law in France is even more complicated than in the US, (2) French contractors don’t show up any more reliably than American contractors, (3) houses are money pits but chateaux are even bigger money pits, (4) a command of academic French may not be of much use when trying to deal with said contractors, and (5) good friends are worth their weight in gold, wherever you are. And luckily for Ariel, when the charming French professor who is researching the history of her chateau is found dead in its moat, her newfound friends have skills and connections when it comes to solving murders.

As it turned out, the mystery was pretty easy to figure out, and I knew pretty much what had happened early on, although I hadn’t figured out all of the precise details. But the rest of the story was so much fun (wine and cheese, please!) that I didn’t care, and I still really enjoyed Murder Visits a French Village. Please keep in mind that since I try to limit “star-flation” a bit, my four-star review is a solid recommendation to read this book. And finally, my thanks to the publishers, Severn House, and to NetGalley for the review copy.

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I really like cosy mysteries, and from the cover design, I was hoping that this might be my sort of book.

The protagonist was a character that I warmed to quickly, and I warmed to the other characters too. There was an event early on in the book that made me unexpectedly sad, and I felt for the protagonist and the situation that she found herself in.

This was a light, entertaining read, and satisfied my cravings for a cosy mystery.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free copy to review.

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Ariel Shepherd inherits a crumbling rundown french chateau after the sudden death of her beloved husband. She sells her luxurious Manhatten apartment to finance the renovation and moves to France. Ariel hires a historian to help her uncover the legacy of the chateau, but the historian is found dead in the moat and Ariel is determined to ferret out the killer. This was a good start to this charming new series.

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I received this advance reader copy via Netgalley and Severn House, in return for an honest review. Lovely mystery set in a derelict French chateau in the gorgeous countryside near Cannes. The recently widowed Ariel Shepard’s husband bought the chateau as a surprise gift after they discovered it during their honeymoon. His unexpected death results in Ariel being cash poor but property rich. So, she sells the NYC apartment and decamps to the chateau, hoping it can be repaired as an upscale B&B. Things go badly from the outset when mixing contractor issues, property issues and cultural surprises. New expat friends certainly help, as does recommendations for reliable workers, until one is accused of a murder on the chateau’s grounds. Really enjoyable cozy and I look forward to the next in this new series.

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A Murderous Iceberg…
Listed as the first in the Chateau in Burgundy series of mysteries, the reader is introduced to Ariel Shepherd - an American who, already reeling from the unexpected death of her new husband, has another shock in store. The crumbling Chateau set in a beautiful French village, that the pair discovered on their honeymoon, is now hers. The trouble is that she has to renovate it - if only that were the least of her troubles, as it turns out to be the mere tip of a murderous iceberg. With a gloriously well done cast of characters and a nigh on perfect setting this is a wholly satisfying murder mystery peppered with red herrings and laced with a gentle humour.

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Ariel and Dan had a perfect marriage, but after only four years she finds herself widowed when Dan suffers an aneurysm. On their honeymoon through France they had admired a rundown chateau. Dan’s will reveals that he purchased the chateau with plans to renovate it. Ariel sells their apartment in Manhattan and heads to France to start a new life and take possession of the property. Dan made the purchase through his US lawyers and notaire Brunet, who is happy to recommend workers for the restoration.

Settling into rooms above a local bistro, Ariel befriends Katherine, the wife of an American musician, and Pippa, a mystery writer. She is also introduced to Christiane Breton, an architect and historian. At Ariel’s request, Christiane begins researching the history of the chateau and has questions regarding the ownership transfer to Dan. When Christiane’s body is discovered in the chateau’s moat, Katherine and Pippa are determined to solve the crime. They had previously worked together to solve a murder and are not totally confident in Brigadier Allard’s abilities. With a number of workmen on the property, Ariel is not sure of who she can trust. Christiane’s husband is also attacked and Ariel is found at the scene by a persistent reporter. A news story implying Ariel’s involvement in the attacks threatens her place in the community. It is up to Katherine, Pippa and Ariel to find Christiane’s notes to discover just what she found that led to her murder.

Ariel is still suffering from the loss of her husband but draws strength from her memories of their time together. Her chateau is located in a small community and Susan Shea brings out all of the charm of the village and the surrounding French countryside. The friendships that Ariel develops are warm and supportive, giving Murder Visits a French Village a welcoming feel that draws you in from the moment Ariel first arrives. I would like to thank NetGalley and Severn House for providing this book for my review.

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It's an entertaining story but it's more about expat in France than a mystery. The setting is lovely, the characters are fleshed out and I had fun in reading their relationship.
The mystery is full of potential but it takes the backseat.
I am sure the next book will be more mystery as I liked what I read and it kept me guessing.
3.5 upped to 4
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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