Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Treachery in Bordeaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen


Treachery in Bordeaux, by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen.  Written in French, and already adapted to a French TV series, this book has been translated and brought to the English reading market by Le French Book.  Set up in 2011 by Anne Trager, who has lived in France for 26 years, the company’s motto is ‘If we love it, we translate it’ and their aim is to reach a broader audience for the many great books that are written in French.  Thanks to Anne for sending me a copy to review.

I was immediately attracted to this book as it is set in Bordeaux, a city I love.  The descriptions of the city, the surrounding areas and the vineyards didn’t disappoint and made me want to get myself back there toute de suite – and I must now explore the town of Blaye that is situated on the other side of the Gironde estuary.  Not surprising for a French book set in Bordeaux, the wine is a key player, but just as good as the wine tasting ‘notes’ are the descriptions of the food; real regional dishes mouth-wateringly described.  But all is not well for one of the estates, the Moniales Haut-Brion, and we find ourselves with a mystery to be solved.  Renowned wine expert Benjamin Cooker, who is battling his own demons as he struggles to finish his latest wine guide, turns detective to try to work out what has caused some barrels at Moniales to turn.  Can his team stop the contamination ruining the entire cellar, is it just bad luck, or poor hygiene or was it a malicious act?  If so, why?  

It is a good read with some strong characters, it moves nicely and is easy to follow, even with quite a bit of technical wine speak.  The only thing that didn’t feel quite right for me was some of the American phrases in the translation, sorry Anne!  I guess it is just a cultural thing (I am an English girl after all), but leaving your car in a ‘downtown lot’ when in the French town of Blaye with it’s Vauban citadel didn’t ring true to me.  However, I do appreciate the bigger ‘English’ audience is the American speaking one.

There are two other books available by Le French Book that I will be reading (and reviewing) very soon, The Paris Lawyer, by Sylvie Granotier and The 7th Woman, by Frédérique Molay.