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The Orchid Shroud : A Novel of Death in the…
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The Orchid Shroud : A Novel of Death in the Dordogne (2006)

by Michelle Wan

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Mara Dunn, a Canadian interior designer living in the Dordogne region of France, is overseeing the renovation process for her client Christophe deBonfond, owner of Aurillac Manor. While tearing down a wall, construction workers discover the desiccated remains of an infant apparently murdered more than a century ago. Ancestor-proud Christophe is concerned that any whiff of scandal would taint the family name and dampen enthusiasm for an about-to-be-published family history.

Orchidologist Julian Wood, an ex-expatriate Brit and friend of Mara, is fascinated by the embroidered silk shawl found with the baby’s remains. He’s on the prowl for a live specimen of a possibly extinct orchid – and the shawl is embroidered with its likeness. That leads him to believe an exhaustive search of the grounds around Aurillac Manor could lead to the orchid’s discovery. Both Mara and Julian, whose lukewarm romance seems to be cooling further, are both driven to delve into the mystery of the baby and the shawl – and into the deBonfond family’s past. Meanwhile, a “creature” is roaming the Dordogne, attacking and killing people. Could the creature and the infant be connected?

The Orchid Shroud is a solid mystery, great for readers who enjoy a complex story, interesting setting, and a few surprises along the way. The pace was a bit slow at first, but I found myself drawn into the story and unable to predict its outcome. The only minor annoyance was the author’s frequent use of unfamiliar (to me) French words. I didn’t keep a French-English dictionary at hand, so I blew past most of the unfamiliar words, attempting to figure out their meanings from the context or similarity to English words. That didn’t keep me from enjoying the story, the writing, and the amateur sleuths, Mara and Julian.

By Diana. First published in Mystery News, October-November 2007. ( )
  NewsieQ | Dec 26, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385514581, Hardcover)

“Not since Nero Wolfe has such a fragrant combination of orchid lore and suspense found its way into a mystery novel,” Booklist trumpeted upon the publication of Michelle Wan’s Deadly Slipper. In THE ORCHID SHROUD, Wan weaves another tale abounding in mystery and orchids as interior decorator Mara Dunn and orchidologist Julian Wood team up to solve two murders: one dating back to the 1870s; the other occurring almost right before their eyes.

Mara is renovating the manor house of Julian’s friend, the wealthy and socially prominent Christophe de Bonfond, when she discovers the body of a murdered infant. The body, concealed for more than a century, brings to light unexpected and critical information on an elusive Lady’s Slipper orchid that Julian avidly seeks. Christophe hires genealogist Jean-Claude Fournier to exonerate his ancestors of infanticide, only to have the expert unleash even more terrifying suspicions about who the de Bonfonds really were and their possible links with the mystery orchid. When violent death strikes in the present day, Mara and Julian begin an investigation of their own that leads them to uncover a trail of murder spanning many decades. As they unearth a past filled with hatred, greed, and treacherous manipulations, they must also unmask a present-day killer—before they become the next victims.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:27 -0400)

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"Mara is renovating the manor house of Julian's friend, the wealthy and socially prominent Christophe de Bonfond, when she discovers the body of a murdered infant. The body, concealed for more than a century, brings to light unexpected and critical information on an elusive Lady's Slipper orchid that Julian avidly seeks. Christophe hires genealogist Jean-Claude Fournier to exonerate his ancestors of infanticide, only to have the expert unleash even more terrifying suspicions about who the de Bonfonds really were and their possible links with the mystery orchid. When violent death strikes in the present day. Mara and Julian begin an investigation of their own that leads them to uncover a trail of murder spanning many decades. As they unearth a past filled with hatred, greed, and treacherous manipulations, they must also unmask a present-day killer - before they become the next victims."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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