Ill Met by Moonlight
by René Weis
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Pub Date 28 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 20 Nov 2023
On a steamy August night in 1952, a British family settles down to sleep beside their car in a lay-by. Before daybreak all three of them, a father, a mother, and their ten-year-old daughter, have been brutally murdered.
In a remote corner of Provence two worlds collide under a full moon. The British family are pioneering scientists and cosmopolitan; the French family accused of the crime are farmers defined by their land and codes of conduct which struck outsiders as feral. The accused farmers closed ranks and lied repeatedly in the shadow of the guillotine and to save the family’s honour. An inspector calls. With extraordinary tenacity he tracks down the man dubbed ‘the monster of the farm of the damned’.
This is the true story of the most contested murder in France since the Second World War, the inspiration for films and tales of espionage, hit squads, wartime bullion treasure, and chemical weapons research. Doubts still linger locally in this part of France as to the final judicial outcome. Conspiracy theories about the reason for the murders are routinely aired, and some family members of the man finally convicted of the crime still claim his innocence.
A Note From the Publisher
His books include The Yellow Cross (‘utterly absorbing’ – Daily Telegraph; ‘succeeds enthrallingly’ – The Times) and The Real Traviata (‘superbly readable and meticulously researched’ – Sunday Times).
Average rating from 7 members
Ill Met by Moonlight is the fascinating and shocking story of the murder of the Drummond family ,who were holidaying in Provence in 1952. Famous Scientist Sir Jack Drummond ,his wife Anne and 10 year-old Daughter Elizabeth had the misfortune to camp in a lay-by next to the property of the dysfunctional Dominici family, short on morality, strangers to honesty and borderline feral.
When the 3 bodies are found the spotlight falls on the Dominicis and despite the horrendous nature of the crime and strong evidence pointing straight at them they close ranks and churn out obvious lie after obvious lie,they were, to be blunt ,truly disgusting people. Finally justice is done,albeit with the perpetrator getting a surprisingly easy time in prison and even more surprisingly released on humanitarian grounds a few years later,
Author Rene Weis has done an excellent job of detailing the awful events of the night the Drummonds were murdered,not least complicated timeline of the odd behaviour of the Dominicis and the sights reported by various passers-by.
While barely remembered in Britain once the story left the headlines it's been a source of controversy in France for decades and engendered several bizarre conspiracy theories and plenty of debate over the guilt or innocence of members of the Dominici family.
A gripping, meticulously researched and well-written book.
A well researched and interesting case of an infamous case known widely to the French and English. This was a new story for me and I found it to be very appealing as I love to read stories from times forgotten. It's such a tragedy, especially since a child was involved. The author did a very good job at presenting all the facts as well as background information on the people involved. Always a bonus for me is there are pictures. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
I knew nothing about these events until reading this book. How truly weird, scary, and heartbreaking for an entire family to be murdered on the side of the road! One of the worst things about the case is how there is no real closure, as people are still arguing about the crime.
I was not familiar with this case but what a fascinating one it is. The author does an amazing job of describing the two families whose fates become entwined through these terrible events. Clearly a thorough research job, the author has taken the job seriously and presents a clear and detailed overview of the case.
I had never heard of this haunting horrific strange murder of a British family in France..A really horrible heat wrenching story.#netgalley#troubadour
On an August 4-5th night in 1952, a British couple and their 10 year old daughter, John, Anne, and Elizabeth Drummond were murdered in a lay-by in Provence, France. John was a scientist and a British biochemist who was knighted for naming of vitamins and British diet nutrition under wartime rationing during Second World War. His murder had been known as the Dominici affair but there is much speculation over the identity of the murderer and the motive behind the crime. This was a very interesting book and I enjoyed reading about the murder. The author, Rene Weis, did a great job with research and explaining everything that happened. A local farmer had been arrested as the murderer. He is Gaston Dominici, 73 years old, and was convicted, sentenced to death by guillotine. President Rene Coty commuted the sentence to life imprisonment and in 1959 President Charles DeGaulle ordered Dominici released on humanitarian grounds. He was not pardoned and did not received another trial. If you like true crime books then you would love this book. You need to read this for yourself and see what you think. Was John Drummond on a spy mission or was he a victim of the farmer?