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In Provence, St-Cyr and Kohler investigate an old-fashioned murder The train ride from Paris is supposed to take four hours, but a Resistance bomb has snarled the tracks, and detectives Jean-Louis St-Cyr and Hermann Kohler are fourteen hours behind schedule. By the time they arrive in Provence, they are travel-weary but intrigued. Even in wartime, it's rare to investigate a murder by crossbow.   The woman was in her early fifties, with well-made clothing and opal earrings that indicate that, until war came, she was wealthy. The crossbow bolt was barbed, and as she tried to pull it out, it shredded her heart. St-Cyr and Kohler quickly learn why the villagers are loath to cooperate: The woman was a smuggler, killed to protect the black market that the inhabitants of this frigid, war-wracked countryside cannot survive without.… (more)
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J. Robert Janes is a Canadian author who has managed to create one of the more interesting detective duos among the many such pairs available in popular detective literature: a detective in the Paris police or sureté, Jean-Louis St. Cyr and a former Munich detective now in the Gestapo, Hermann Kolher. The two work as homicide detectives - after all even during the Occupation there were murders to be solved.

Kaleidoscope is the third book in Janes' series and while not essential, I recommend starting with Mayhem, the first book in the series that provides much of the back story about the protagonists and their developing relationship. St. Cyr is attempting to hold on to his dignity and his patriotism and is quite wary of Kohler. Fortunately, Kohler is a detective first and a Gestapo only several steps distant and not a Nazi at any step however far removed.

The relationship between St. Cyr and Kohler is evolving; the relationships between them and their bosses and between those bosses and the competing German and French security forces is, to say the very least, complicated. Lines of authority are constantly blurred as these forces vie for superiority. Among the goals of the leaders are the accumulation of loot and the exercise of brutal power. This complexity is a primary strength of Janes' writing that gives him a voice of vérité.

The clarity of his writing, however, suffers from this penchant for complexity. On the other hand, Janes' writing gets better as the series goes on, so if you don't feel the need to know all the background, feel free to dive in anywhere.

Kaleidoscope is set in the rural Provence in southern France. A woman is murdered by crossbow. Turns out she was engaged in the black-market, but was she doing `more', i.e. was she helping the resistance smuggle pilots, escapees, and insurgents, into Spain? And fi so, who killed her and why?

Janes keeps getting better. Recommended. ( )
  dougwood57 | Aug 30, 2010 |
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The past, though broke, is mirrored in the present, and when turn, the fragments are either flung apart to make their patterns or tumble into place as time collapses.
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To my artist friends, without whom life would be such a bore.
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The wind was bitter, the night like ink.
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In Provence, St-Cyr and Kohler investigate an old-fashioned murder The train ride from Paris is supposed to take four hours, but a Resistance bomb has snarled the tracks, and detectives Jean-Louis St-Cyr and Hermann Kohler are fourteen hours behind schedule. By the time they arrive in Provence, they are travel-weary but intrigued. Even in wartime, it's rare to investigate a murder by crossbow.   The woman was in her early fifties, with well-made clothing and opal earrings that indicate that, until war came, she was wealthy. The crossbow bolt was barbed, and as she tried to pull it out, it shredded her heart. St-Cyr and Kohler quickly learn why the villagers are loath to cooperate: The woman was a smuggler, killed to protect the black market that the inhabitants of this frigid, war-wracked countryside cannot survive without.

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