“ Print Length: 318 pages / Publisher: San Marco Press / Published: 11 Aug 2011 „
Adwoman Maggie Newberry from Atlanta, Georgia, is in Cannes on the French Côte d'Azur to meet a man who can help her find her niece. Her sister moved to France several years ago to study art but met the wrong man and soon hit rock bottom. Drugs, prostitution, the whole lot. She gave birth to a girl, Nicole, who was abducted by her father when she was five years old. Half a year later the girl's grandparents, well-off and respected citizens, get a call from a man claiming he can help them - for a considerable amount of money, though.
Maggie flies to France, meets the man, but has to wait for more than a week until the girl is finally handed over to her. Meanwhile a young Frenchman, Laurent, keeps her company. He's a shady character with a dark past, but oh, so French meaning: oh, so sexy. She doesn't understand what's going on and why she should pass her time with him sight-seeing. Whenever she tries to learn something about her sister, Laurent distracts her.
Eventually Laurent and Maggie become an item, he accompanies her back to Atlanta, moves in with her and spends his time cooking delicious French meals. Nicole stays with her grandparents. One day Gerard, the girl's father, appears, threatens Maggie and makes her hand over 5000 $. He then brings her her sister, more dead than alive from drug abuse. She begs Maggie to be allowed to stay in her flat until she feels better and looks more presentable when she meets her parents. Coming back from work, Maggie finds her sister murdered. The police are not too keen on solving the case. A lot of crime is being committed in Atlanta, so much so that Maggie's boss decides to sell his agency and emigrate to New Zealand. Maggie is dead set on finding her sister's murderer and flies to Paris because she thinks the key may be there.
I'm a great admirer of well woven plots. I've read many a thriller in which several stories are told which seemingly have nothing to do with each other but which by and by are connected. In the end it becomes clear that they all depend on each other and none could have been omitted.
This, sadly, can't be said about this novel. I feel my leg pulled by the way the author leads the reader. I'm snowed under by minute descriptions of places, characters, and above all emotions which lead nowhere. I can't say that there are red herrings, the bulk of the book is a red herring. The term 'red whale' would be more appropriate. The solution is far-fetched and unsatisfying. So, despite two murders and two attempted murders the book is more flop than top as a thriller. Furthermore, there are many improbabilities. Elise and Gerard, two drug addicts, have enough money to fly from France to the USA? An airline which lets two dirty, stinking bums on board a transatlantic flight? Come on, Ms Kiernan-Lewis! How silly do you think I am?
An author can get away with a lot if they can use language well. Unfortunately, Susan Kiernan-Lewis can't. Listen to this, "... (she said), straightening out the long, languid pleats of her skirt with pale, tapered fingers." Languid pleats? Tapered fingers? Authors should get an electric stroke whenever they type a superfluous and/or nonsensical adjective or adverb and a double stroke if they combine the two.
Murder on the Côte d'Azur isn't your typical chick lit novel because the female protagonist doesn't waver between two alpha males and the plot centres around a murder mystery, but stylistically it belongs into the chick-lit drawer. For some reason the authors or rather authoresses of this genre think that chicks like their lit flowery.
But, dear readers, this is my review and my opinion. There must be a lot of readers out there who think differently. Believe it or not, the book has already two sequels! I'd read them only if I were stranded in an oasis or on a desert island where there was nothing else to read for me. I've given the book two stars and not only one because if you're in the right mood the many blunders can be seen as extra entertainment, albeit an involuntary one.