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Twelve Curious Deaths in France
Twelve Curious Deaths in France by John Goldsmith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an intriguing book filled with a wide variety of stories all, as the title says, centring around someone dying in France. But if this makes the book sound morbid, that’s far from the case.

Goldsmith introduces us to a panorama of characters that range from the burningly caustic Voltaire (whose death turns out to be a surprising joke on the part of fate, or possibly God) to a French secret-service agent with more secrets than he’s supposed to have.

The stories themselves range in tone from as dry as one of the driest French wines to vividly gripping. A screenwriter and novelist, Goldsmith knows how to hone a tale. And the collection builds to a remarkably moving end.

If I have a cavil, it’s that the wit can sometimes be a tad too dry and detached, at least for my taste, and that the order of the stories (which I understand came from the publisher) doesn’t necessarily serve them as well as it could.

However, overall, a good read and as pungent as a whiff of Gauloises and garlic on a warm Provencal night.

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