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Flambé in Armagnac by Jean-Pierre Alaux
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Wine Expert Benjamin Cooker is called in to estimate the value of the losses when a warehouse of an Armagnac estate is burned down. Also, the master distiller is killed in the fire that was classified as an accident. But was it really an accident? Cooker and his assistant Virgile travel to Gascony to find out the truth…

One thing I really like with this series is how perfect they are to read between books because of their shortness and because of the cozy French mystery book feeling. This is the third book in the series I have read and now I feel quite familiar with the characters and the setup of the books. Yes, sometimes I wish they were a bit thicker, with a deeper story since the milieu is so fantastic and with a few more twist and turns would be really good. But then the cozy feeling would probably disappear and that would also be a shame.

The story in this one was OK, I kind of liked the previous book Mayhem in Margaux a little bit more, but I think that is because Cookers daughter Margaux was in it and he was very fatherly worried for her when he was introduced to Virgile. I hope she will return in future books.

If you feel like reading some cozy mystery books that take place in France, then perhaps this series is for you.

I received this copy from Le French Book through Edewleiss in return for an honest review! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Apr 14, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Review of Jean- Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen, Flambe in Armagnac , translated from the French by Sally Pane, Le French Book, New York, 2015. Original title in French is Question d’eaux de vie … ou de mort published by Librairie Artheme Fayard, Paris, 2004.
Mary-Jane Deeb
I have watched a number of episodes of Le Sang de la vigne or “the blood of the vine” on television and love the series. It is visually stunning: set in sunlit French landscapes where vineyards spread as far as the eye can see. The beautiful and stylishly clad characters generally live in some spectacular chateau, where they discuss wine and drink it too, but seem unhappy enough to commit murder. Enter Benjamin Cooker (Benjamin Lebel, in the French series), our chief protagonist and wine expert par excellence! He is generally called on oeneological matters, but ends up playing detective with a side-kick (usually an assistant) and solving the murder.
Flambe in Armagnac is another book in this very popular series. It is set not in one but in two chateaux. It is not wine this time that brings Benjamin Cooker to Gascony, in southwest France, but Armagnac, a distinctive type of brandy produced in that region of France. He is sent there by an insurance company to assess the damage caused by a fire that has destroyed the warehouse of one of Gascony’s top Armagnac estates. But when he suspects murder, his investigation takes on a different focus. Within a week he has solved both the insurance fraud, and the murders and returns home to celebrate Christmas with his wife.
Jean-Pierre Alaux, the main author, is a radio and television journalist, writes for magazines , and is a novelist. The grandson of a winemaker, he knows a great deal about wine, and as a gourmet he also knows a great deal about food. In fact his cookbook La Truffe sur le Souffle, (the truffle on the soufflé) which he wrote with French chef Alexis Pelissou, won the Antonin Careme prize. The discussion of Armagnac (or wine, depending on the book) is always erudite, and one also learns a great deal about mouthwatering culinary regional specialties.
But this slender book has been definitely written for television. There is almost no description of the countryside (because on television you can actually see the landscape), and the characters are two dimensional (because you do not need to imagine them on the small screen). There is very little suspense in the book, again I suppose because suspense can be created visually when shooting the film. And so, unfortunately, the magic of the TV series is totally lacking in the book. ( )
  MaryJaneDeeb | Jan 24, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
While I enjoyed the descriptions of food and wine, I found the plot to be
underdeveloped and predictable . I enjoyed the main character, Benjamin Cooker and his assistant as they uncovered the mystery of the fire that
destroyed a valuable cache of expensive wine. Descriptions of food, wine and wine making held my interest. It was a quick read- not a real mystery. ( )
  dlong810 | Jan 5, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Benjamin Cooker is wine expert working for an insurance company. He and his assistant, Virgile, head to Gascony to investigate a fire at an Armagnac estate. There are numerous descriptions of the food and wine that Benjamin and Virgile consume. The mystery is an afterthought. This is a short, pleasant read. I felt a few things suffered from either the translation or our cultural differences with the French. Recommended for the Francophile that loves food and wine.

I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. ( )
  fiberdzns | Dec 10, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Very light reading. Fun setting and they certainly eat well and drink well too. The detective is not a policeman, he's an insurance investigator, and has no qualms about having a nip while working. This is the only book I've read in this series. It's a stand alone, and there aren't a lot of references to prior cases. I enjoyed it as a quick read and as a break from more serious reading. The mystery was not too complicated, it's more about the personalities and the food. Did I mention the food? I also learned a bit about how they distill the brandy. I'll be reading more of these. ( )
  seeword | Nov 30, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean-Pierre Alauxprimary authorall editionscalculated
Balen, Noëlmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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