The Missing Corpse by Jean-Luc Bannalec

St. Martin’s Press, 2019

A fiction pick by Jean-Louis

I have a little confession to make–I chose to read this novel partly because I share the same initials as the author and the novel is set in the part of France where my grandparents were born. The Missing Person: A Brittany Mystery is the fourth novel in the series by Jean-Luc Bannalec, but that is a pseudonym for German writer Jörg Bong. This is a little funny because in the novel, the Breton characters are always making a game of connecting all things to Brittany. The Bretons did it first! I already knew I was connected to Bretagne–author  Bong made his own connection by setting his mystery series there.

Our sleuth is Commissaire Dupin and he leads a team of investigators looking at the report of a murder. The only problem is that the body has suddenly gone missing. Oh, then another body gets discovered. Are the crimes connected, if so, how? As we solve the mystery, we will learn about oysters, sand, and all things Breton and Celtic.

Truth be told (who is telling the truth anyway), I am not really a reader of mysteries, but I am interested in Brittany. Bannalec does not disappoint on this score as he takes our intrepid investigators all across Bretagne, throws in loads of information on wine, food, architecture, landscapes, Breton culture, and a ton of information about oyster farming. The author may not be sponsored by the tourist bureau, but likely he should be because I know that I want to go back to France to discover the places he writes about so vividly and I want to sample the wines and food he writes about so tantalizingly.

The series has become so popular that French TV has started a series based on the novels. I have put a hold on book one in the series!

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