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Reviewed by Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
The Richebourg Affair is a debut mystery novel by author R.M. Cartmel. It is set in the wine country of France and it features commander Charlemagne Truchaud, a detective with la Police Nationale out of Paris. Following the death of his brother, Commander Truchaud travels to the town of his birth to make arrangements for his brother's funeral. His brother was a winemaker. While there, he discovers two important things: his brother may have been involved in some shady business and his father has Alzheimer's disease. This immediately complicates what Truchaud believed would be a short trip. After the death of another winemaker, Truchaud concludes that there is foul play in the profession and he sets out to discover a devious plot revolving around his family vineyard. To accomplish his goals, the detective uses his police team in Paris and couples it with available assistance from the local force in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
The mystery is well-conceptualized and development moves at a pace suggestive of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Ever so gradually, Truchaud's personality is teased out as he interacts with his immediate family, the family of other winemakers and the local gendarmes. The interactions between the local police and Truchaud are memorable and it is truly rewarding to see trust and cooperation grow from skepticism. Just when you think you might have figured out the key figures in the mystery, Cartmel throws another spanner in the works. The Richebourg Affair is a fun read in which the reader is fed tiny nuggets of gold which later lead to the gold mine itself.