Homicide Hérault (Hardy Durkin Travel Mystery, #6) by Bluette Matthey
A compelling mix of old and new characters and cold and current crimes make for a riveting mystery set in the south of France.
Hardy Durkin’s latest excursion was a cycling tour of the south of France, and with new as well as returning clients, Hardy had planned a full ten-day adventure of unique sights and experiences. However, on their very first outing, one of his charges stumbled across the remains of two men, one a French soldier and the other an American, in a wooded area adjacent to the river where the cyclists had paused for a break.
When Hardy saw the corpses, he quickly realized these men were not victims of an accident but had been shot, execution-style, in the back of the head. The dog tags on their bodies placed their deaths almost 50 years earlier, and the hidden microfiche one carried hinted at the reason for their murders.
Homicide Hérault is the sixth book in author Bluette Matthey’s international mystery series featuring former military turned computer geek turned tour company operator Hardy Durkin. The mystery includes both the cold case of the murdered soldiers and another, which occurs right in front of the tour group and an entire audience of festival-goers.
The story is packed with tantalizing descriptions of food, drink, and the countryside of the Languedoc region through which the cyclists travel. The author slips in a wide range of interesting historical details about Roman settlements, the annihilation of the Catholic splinter sect, the Cathars, and the more recent and relevant to the story, events of the Algerian War, which ended in 1962.
Hardy calls on his Legionnaire friends, Lieutenant Colonel Alain Clotiers and Captain Luc Buvain, introduced in book one of the series, to hand off the investigation into the dead men. This turns out to be a wise move as factions still exist in the area that have a lot to lose should the truth behind the soldiers’ murders come to light.
The story takes a surprising turn when Durkin and the Legionnaires inadvertently uncover a human trafficking operation while investigating the cold case. The plot is compelling, with twists I never saw coming.
With its unusual and historical setting and mix of old and new, I recommend HOMICIDE HÉRAULT to mystery readers interested in international, off-the-beaten-path travel, unique history, and fans of the previous books in the series.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.