Follet Valley Mysteries #1
Mystery, General Fiction
Farrago; July 1, 2021
230 pages (ebook)
2.5 / 5 ✪
I was kindly furnished an advance copy in return for a fair and honest review. Many thanks to Farrago and NetGalley for the eARC! All opinions are my own.
Richard Ainsworth is a middle-aged Englishman running a bed and breakfast in the Loire Valley of France. He has a fairly boring life—no excitement or mystery ever entering into it. Which is just the way he likes it.
But that’s about to come to an end.
For one day a guest disappears from his B&B in the middle of the night, leaving only a bloody handprint behind him. Enter Valerie Dorçay, an exotic and enigmatic woman that coincidentally happens to be staying the same night that the guest vanishes. Eager to solve the caper, the Frenchwoman drags Richard on the ride of his life as they rove around the fictional hamlet of Val de Follet in pursuit of the mystery that so binds them.
But by the time they find out the truth, will Richard be sick of this life or smitten with it? Or will he instead fall victim to the very murderer he hunts?
Instead of the “Charming, witty, brilliant, relentless rollercoaster” of a read that Death and Croissants was billed as, another term comes to my mind when describing it.
A reluctant host is dragged into a murder investigation and manages to solve it in a fun, hilarious, and roundabout way, all thanks to a mysterious and sexy stranger and a ragtag band of misfits blah blah blah. It’s the kind of book that would’ve been better served with a laugh-track and a live studio audience. Sitcoms like this are a dime a dozen, and books even more so. Now maybe if the comedy had been profound, the lead deep and relatable, the setting vivid and unique, or the mystery extra mysterious and immersive—this could’ve been great. But none of these things are the case. The world itself is rather blasé. The mystery itself does feature a few interesting twists, but they’re small and far between. Richard is just some bloke—maybe relatable, but certainly not deep. The comedy simply tried too hard, never really succeeding.
Even a few days removed from this, I’m already struggling to remember it. The characters aren’t exactly bland, but neither are they exciting or unique. The plot isn’t dull, but neither is it particularly interesting. The humor is hit-and-miss. It’s not bad, nor is it terribly good.
It’s as if the Death and Croissants is trying very hard not to take itself too seriously, which it ultimately fails at. Don’t get me wrong—it’s not a bad read. It’s okay. The story shows some heart later on, some character, the mystery does eventually try to avoid being predictable. Which it mostly succeeds at. A rather lackluster finish ruins what could’ve been a decent turnaround, cementing Death and Croissants’ status as okay, if generic and forgettable.