O'Brien, Martin - 'The Dying Minutes'
In 1972 a gold bullion convoy is hijacked in Marseilles. The security trucks and hijackers are swiftly rounded up , but a ton of gold from one truck has disappeared.
In August 1999, Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot is on a four month enforced sick leave after been badly shot during a previous case. His six-months pregnant wife and daughter who were also both injured have gone to Guadeloupe in the French West Indies to recuperate. At first Jacquot felt very alone in their flat but then he had some unexpected good news, it seems he had inherited an ocean going yacht, that would, at a pinch, sleep four. Jacquot just could not believe his luck and spent a lot of recuperation time on the boat which was in moorings with some others. The previous owner who was known as "Philo" was something of a book worm and there were books on every surface. Jacquot noted that a lot of the books came from particular libraries or bookshops and in order to get more background on his benefactor he began enquiries at these particular locations.
The Marseilles Police become involved in some gruesome murders and a former colleague and sometime lover who is now a similarly ranked police detective refers to Jacquot for advice when he is staying on the boat and they begin to get attracted once again. A couple of Marseilles gangland bosses are also intrigued that the "Constance", Jacquot's new boat has a new owner and they start to watch him as they wonder if perhaps, Jacquot will find some clue on the boat that could lead to the missing gold. The story which is quite a dramatic page turner and despite its length rushes on to the gripping conclusion.
This is the author's seventh book with the Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot leading protagonist. The book was very exciting but there were a lot of references to characters and details from previous novels that I felt were left only partially explained for newer readers like me (I had only read CONFESSION prior to this one). Aside from this reservation, I found this a very unusual police procedural, very evocative of the enticing French way of life - you could almost taste the hot buttered croissants and smell the French black coffee on every page - which makes this English author particularly original. I will certainly look out for more stories by Martin O'Brien in the future. Well Recommended.
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Terry Halligan, England