Murder in Lascaux
A Nora Barnes and Toby Sandler Mystery
Mystery and murder mix with art, history, and cuisine in the south of France
Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians
Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Reviewers
“A whodunit that nicely balances a breezily light travelogue with urgency and suspense. Readers will hope this is the first of a series.”
The cave of Lascaux may be closed to the public, but five scholars a day are allowed inside, and Nora Barnes has finagled an appointment. True, she may have fudged a bit in her letter to the authorities, but she does teach art history, and she isn’t about to miss her chance to see the world’s most famous prehistoric paintings. Nora and her high-spirited husband, Toby Sandler, are visiting the Dordogne, in the southern French region of the Aquitaine. Aware that the Dordogne’s renown for cave art is matched only by its reputation for delicious cuisine, the couple has also signed up for a cooking class at a nearby château, but they soon find that more than food is on their minds.
During their tour of the cave, another visitor is murdered. When the local inspector pegs Nora and Toby as suspects, they embark on a mission to solve the crime, tracing strange links between a Cro-Magnon symbol and a thirteenth-century religious cult. As they match wits with the crusty inspector, Nora finds herself immersed in the notebooks of a forgotten artist who once lived in the château. In sifting through the artist’s papers and uncovering old secrets, she begins to piece together the motives for the murder. But has she cooked up more trouble than she can handle?
Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden cowrote the mystery novel The Body in Bodega Bay and the memoir A Castle in the Backyard: The Dream of a House in France and translated and edited The Walnut Cookbook by Jean-Luc Toussaint. They are professors emeriti of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
“If you like a murder mystery you can get your teeth into, give this one a try. Bon appétit!”
“That the book feels like the seamless work of a single author is no coincidence; readers of Draine and Hinden’s first mystery will be both entertained and educated by what is clearly a shared passion for the Dordogne and its considerable charms.”
“This . . . marvelously detailed excursion through the Dordogne will leave you dreaming of castles, chateaus, and caves. . . . With the cooking school component, this multifaceted read will hold great appeal for art, food, travel, and oh yes, mystery readers.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Some fascinating French history—and prehistory—is layered into the plot, including Cro-Magnon artists, the 13th-century religious sect of the Cathars, 19th-century French painters, and the turbulent era of the Occupation during World War II. The cooking classes evoke the delicious tastes and aromas of the Dordogne—magret de canard, foie gras, and walnut cake, to say nothing of the wines—and the class excursions, coupled with the amateur sleuths’ investigations, take them to picturesque villages and natural sites, local cafés and restaurants, and even a lively regional festival. Skillfully blending a travelogue with an intriguing mystery, Draine and Hinden have produced a debut novel that many readers will hope is the first of a series.”
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Paper, July 2014
Cloth, October 2011
LC: 2011015989 PS
296 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/4