Book Review: Death and Croissants by Ian Moore (2023)

British Ex-pat Richard Ainsworth wants a quiet life. He’s settling into the quaint Follet Valley in France and running a semi-successful B&B that caters to tourists and newlyweds. He attempts to serve breakfast to his guests one morning when he and another guest, the chic and determined Valerie Dorcay, finds a bloody handprint on the wallpaper and the broken glasses frames of one of his elderly guests.

Inexplicably, Valerie bullies Richard into not reporting the murder to the police but agrees to help Valerie investigate the mystery because she is bored and has beautiful brown eyes. Richard is totally cowed by these eyes because he is going through a divorce with his wife, Clare, who is not currently living with him at the B&B.

So Valerie and Richard begin their investigation, leading them to the missing man’s brother. He is a judge, and his criminal brother lives next door and likes to commit crimes and impersonate the judge.

Then Valerie and Richard are accosted by rival B&B owners who believe they are having an affair. Valerie believes the missing man might have also stayed at the rival B&B, so she scopes it out. She is startled to realize that the other B&B is a nudist resort. They also are swingers who through sex parties. How wacky! (eye roll)

When Valerie and Richard meet back up at Richard’s B&B, Richard finds one of his chickens strangled, and that’s officially when I put this in my DNF pile.

All of the characters, especially Valerie and Richard, are so broad. Valerie is beautiful, chic, bored, and demanding. She is a stereotype, so unlike a real woman, it makes me think Ian Moore has never met a woman. Richard is so boring and doesn’t want to investigate a murder. He wants to have emotional affairs with women and stew in anxiety. He seemingly hates his guests and spends every waking second daydreaming in a Walter Mittyesque sequence. Still, you know…if Walter Mitty had a poster of classic movies in his dorm that he’s never watched but pretends that he has to seem cool.

Nobody acts logically, and Ian Moore believes that making the characters weird and drastic things that make no sense is humorous. At first, I thought maybe it was an attempt at the philosophy of absurdism (which is prevalent in movies- and you can see it done well in the movie Everything, Everywhere, All At Once). Still, I quickly realized, no, Ian Moore is just a lousy writer who co-opted the cozy mystery genre to play out some weird middle-aged male fantasy.

This book is pretty divisive, with many people giving it a low rating on Goodreads, so I am not alone in my assessment that it is pure drivel. I don’t recommend it. It’s not the next “Thursday Murder Club” as advertised, and I regret spending my money on a physical copy of this terrible book because now I don’t know what to do with it. It does smell good (mmm, new book smell) and has soft pages. Oh, and I like the cover design, so there’s that.

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

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