What happened to Jacques Gaillard? The brilliant teacher at the École Nationale d’Administration, who trained some of France’s best and brightest as future prime ministers and presidents, vanished ten years ago, presumably from Paris. This ten-year-old mystery inspires a bet—one that Enzo Macleod, a biologist teaching in Toulouse, France, instead of pursuing a brilliant career in forensics back home in Scotland, can ill afford to lose. The wager is that Enzo can find out what happened to Jacques Gaillard by applying new science to a cold case.
Enzo goes to Paris to meet journalist Roger Raffin, the author of a book on seven celebrated unsolved murders, the assumption being that Gaillard is dead. He needs Raffin’s notes, and armed with these, he begins his quest. It quickly has him touring landmarks such as the Paris catacombs and a château in Champagne, digging up relics and bones. Then Enzo finds the actual head of Jacques Gaillard. The artifacts buried with the skull set him to interpreting the clues they provide and following in someone’s footsteps—maybe more than one someone—seeking the rest of Gaillard’s remains and reviewing some ancient and recent history. As with any quest, it’s as much discovery as detection, and Enzo, despite all his missteps, proves to be an ace investigator, scientific and intuitive, who definitely meets his goals.
Peter May is a Scottish television screenwriter, novelist, and crime writer. He has won several literary awards for his novels.
©2006 Peter May (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“This travelogue-cum-murder mystery makes for a fun puzzle.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A thoroughly engaging puzzle.” (Library Journal)
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I am always looking for new books in the mysteries and thrillers category. I tried this on a whim and am so glad that I did.
This is not the formulaic finding gruesome crime scenes and trying to put together the clues to find the killer. It's a cold case based on some dry bones and scavenger hunt type clues that lead to more bones with more clues. During the process of solving the old crime, there are some new victims and an array of potential perpetrators.
Enzo himself has an interesting professional background and personal life. He is challenged to this seemingly impossible task both intellectually and monetarily. He is urged on and abetted by the (good guy) challenger. However, he is also led astray by the bad guys.
I found this a delightful change in the murder mystery genre. I look forward to listening to all of the other Enzo Files books.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
Comparisons to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code are valid, as much of Dry Bones is a scavenger hunt for clues to a murder. In my opinion, Peter May’s writing is stronger, particularly in character development. I never really got Langdon, but Enzo MacLeod – now that’s a flesh and bone character. Middle aged and a little worse for wear, he’s flawed, has made mistakes and has regrets. But he’s smart, intuitive and has a big heart. The supporting characters are also believable, with lives of their own aside from their roles in progressing the plot.
The one weakness in the story is how long it took to get through the scavenger hunt, which did little to suggest motive or possible suspects for the murder. It dragged us around Paris and the surrounding countryside, but the hunt was mostly engaging with unexpected mayhem thrown in along the way so it’s not wasted time. The final third of the story is where the dots get connected and it kicked into a new gear. Although the ultimate motivation for the murder was a little soft, the action was good.
I tuned into this series because I truly loved May’s “Lewis Trilogy” (sadly no longer available to Audible in the US), and wanted more of his writing. I’ve started with this first one and will continue on, definitely cherry picking the ones narrated by Simon Vance. His ability to give credible voice to MacLeod’s Scottish brogue, the various French characters, male, female, young and old, was a significant factor in relating to the entire cast.
This is my kind of book. Great character development - of great characters! The plot is very creative with clever twist and turns. Brilliant ! I would recommend this book to British mystery lovers in general. If you like author Josephine Tey, Detective Morse and the like, I think you will appreciate this writer as well.
I was so impressed with this book ( I think it's a series) I'm about to order another book by this Author.
Enzo McLeod, a big Scott who now lives and teaches forensic science in France, has a bet with a friend that he can solve a number of cold cases using modern forensic science. He tackles one case per book. Naturally, lots of people do not want them solved and so mayhem ensures.
Enzo has a cast of interesting recurring characters and is written with good humor. Entertaining and interesting books.
I love to read books set in interesting places or historical settings. I especially love mysteries and thrillers.
I am noticing that more and more mysteries seem to go with the "cold case" instead of current crime story. I find that most cold cases are enjoyable, as long as you realize that most of the action will be at the end of the book instead of a steady pacing of it throughout the book. That doesn't mean that "cold cases" are boring and slow, just different. In fact, the writer has to be so much more clever in offering clues that are found many years after the crime.
For this story, the clues are offered as a scavenger hunt made possible with matching the found relics at crime sites with internet searches. I enjoyed the race around France finding the next set of bones and clues as I enjoyed the actual mystery story. The only reason I rated the story 4 stars is that the final motive is less than satisfying.
The detective, Enzo Macleod, is actually a biologist teaching in Toulouse, France instead of pursuing a career in forensics in his Scottish homeland. Peter May did an excellent job of building Enzo's character throughout the book. However, Simon Vance was a master of bringing Enzo and all the other wonderful characters to life. How does Simon Vance do such distinctly different voices and accents for each character without a single glitch? Simon Vance even voices women so well without the high falsetto voice that so many other narrators do. Simon Vance kept my interest up as much as Peter May did for this audio book. Thanks for a fun experience with this audio book.
I don't know about you, but why are there so so so many 5 star reviews. I LOVE books, but so few are 5 star.
The story was okay, but once again it was Vance that made it worth listening. The story was a little predictable and overwrought. It was entertaining, but not totally engrossing.
I would try another book written by May, but not tops on my must read.
Yes, absolutely. Absorbing story.
Yes, This story was never boring. All of the clues and how Enzo and the other piece it all to gether was very interesting.
There are few narrators better than Simon Vance. He moves effortlessly from French accents (male and female) with Scottish. Very convincing in all.
oh yes. both laugh and cry.
I didn't want this book to end. I will immediately get the next in the series and explore the others written by Peter May.
I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener.
When your author makes excuses for the unfathomable good luck of his detective with statements like this, "Enzo was beginning to feel like one of the Three Princes of Serendip," you know that you're being fed a lazy tale where accidents, rather than sagacity, are the dominant theme.
The premise of this quasi-detective story (the main character is not a cop, but a biology professor) is seriously flawed - the protagonist (Enzo) takes a case on a bet. Other motivations are not clear…perhaps he's bored. Once he does engage, we follow his left turns over this "Pont" and onto that "Rue," around French postcard cities, generally unengaged with the author's sideshow cuisine and wine forays. Few North Americans can reference Enzo's urban(e) wanderings, leaving the listener feeling like he or she has just departed a boring dinner party where the hosts showed their guests a slideshow of a recent trip to France. After awhile it all blurs into a bland Ratatouille stew.
To keep the listener attentive, the author makes a futile attempt at mimicking Umberto Eco's, The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum. But, Peter May is no Umberto Eco. Some reviewers equate this novel with Brown's, Da Vinci Code. However, Dry Bones is far too random and cliche to rise that far.
Personally, I think Peter May should try his hand at travel writing. He seems to know a great deal of trivia that may be of interest to the Francophile in a few of us.
Too much description over and over about same things.
Yes but he needs less detail and more thrill.
I think Enso could develop into a very interesting character.
"Oh Dear - the accents"
What a disappointment! After listening to the 2 Hebridean novels my hopes were high but this book did not engage me. As a print book it may have been better although the constant use of words like ‘sejours’ is an irritating and useless device in creating a feeling of France. However, it was the narration which really spoiled it for me. The narrative was very pleasant to listen to but the dialogue was almost unbelievable. Both French and Scottish men ‘growled’ out a tortured transposition of vowel sounds – ‘Allo, ‘Allo meets Hey Jimmy.
The pace of the story was good until the last section where it was very drawn out. Descriptions of areas of France were fascinating but characters are quite shallow
"Back to the islands for me"
I just didn't get this. In comparison to the Lewis trilogy the book was a pale shadow. Characters not brilliant and the plot didn't answer the most basic question "why bother"?
"Not bad but not in same league as Lewis trilogy"
My title says it all, this isn't a bad book but I have definitely been spoilt by the Lewis series. This book is not as good. All that said, I found the book ok. I did have the rest of the Enzo series on my wish list but will only consider buying them if they are in a future 3 for 2 deal or other offer.
"Murder below the Streets of Paris"
An exciting and quick paced novel which is a cross between a Dan Brown plot in that it gives a geographical/historical backdrop to the mystery - in this case Paris; and the popular forensic scientist model who acts like Sherlock Holmes making the police look like fools!
I enjoyed it and look forward to the second in the series.
"First disappointment from Audible"
The story was ridiculous. The performance was disappointing - poor French accent made me grind my teeth - there must be actors who can reproduce a decent accent. There was far too much detail of the Parisian road system and the 'trail' was more like more like France by GPS. Sadly, I couldn't even be bothered to finish this book. The author should stick to the Police series, he's on surer footing there.
"oh lala the accents!!"
the original narrator from the first book reading this one!having just listened to book one, then moved on to book two the accents were just too bad to keep listening to it.
stuck with the same narrator
lose the over the top French accents and the English Scotsman.....
didn't listen to it all, returned it to Audible and bought book 3 instead, (original narrator returns yippee) best feature was after chapter one returning it and getting a credit back on my account, nice touch.
delighted with audibles returns policy, made it sufferable.....
I was put off starting this series from Peter May because of rather lukewarm reviews. I did however finally take the plunge and I'm glad I did because I actually quite enjoyed. No this is nothing like the tremendous Lewis series - but then this isn't a dark,brooding tale. No it isn't as atmospheric as the Chinese detective series either - in fact the reviewer that said it was a cross between Dan Brown & the Famous Five wasn't actually far off the mark. For a bet Enzo is investigating a number of unsolved murders using today's forensic science (well loosely anyway) - and the books are just nice easy listening. Enzo does have a tendency to fluctuate between sounding like BIlly Connelly and Sean Connery, but he's a likeable enough character and the plots and clues a lot more probable than some books I have read or listened to. I cannot understand the complaints about Peter Vance's accents, I think the reading is excellent with just enough accents thrown in to easily recognise the cast of characters. No this may not set the world alight but its a decent enough series and well worth a listen.
"Dry Bones, dry story"
Too many unnecessary street / place names as though to prove that the author had done his research and knew France
"Good murder mystery for Francophiles/Francophones"
I would recommend, but would tell them I found the book entertaining, if a little predictable at times, and it went at a good pace with enough excitement to make me stay in bed one Sunday morning to listen to the last 6 chapters! Peter May writes about women from a man's perspective - I don't mean sexist, but more how he would like women to be than how they really are! (Work this out, men!) Nevertheless, I enjoyed his story and enjoyed his wry humour - maybe because I am a Scot and it is such a Scottish thing. Other writers criticise the accents - well, one narrator can only produce so many accents - as a Scot I found it quite authentic (West of Scotland). Also a lot of French used - seems logical to me as it was first printed in French, from what I can gather from internet, and why change those bits when it helps you to learn a bit more of the language of the country in which it is set. Good for those interested in France and happy to learn a bit about the language and country. I've spent a bit of time in France and found it all quite authentic, en fait.
Kinda guessed half way through who the main perpetrator was/would be, but found the ending quite exciting - as mentioned above. The 'changes' in the family relationships were also quite predictable - but perfectly believable.
Oh, Enzo! And it seemed to me that Simon Vance enjoyed being Enzo and tried very hard to get his character right - and I thought the accent was fine.
Maybe the loss of his second wife. He appeared to have discarded the first one easily enough but he didn't have time to get tired of the second one. Nor did he seem to have struck up any other long-term relationships in the 18 or so years since she had died, so maybe it was the real thing. (I'm a cynic!)
Peter May is not Georges Simenon or Ian Rankin, but I thought the book might be of interest to readers of these two authors. It was well written and I enjoyed all the bits of 'education' e.g. Champagne production; and the catacombs of Paris.
A different narrator - the one who did Entry Island was much better.
The accents were dire - I tried to proceed but I just couldn't get past them.
Do try other Peter May books!
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