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Accidental Death in Biarritz

Accidental Death in Biarritz

By Jim Parisi

Peter Ellis is an American investigative reporter living in Paris. He’s in his late 30’s or early 40’s and has garnered an excellent reputation for his literary work, writing under then pseudonym Jean LeBlanc, mainly to protect himself from the victims of his pen. That’s how good he is at not only writing, but investigating as well, turning up dirt on high-profile names who would prefer said dirt to remain under a rock.

Ellis is also a surfer, so when he reads about Kevin Duffy, a young American surfer, dying when he inexplicably falls to his death from an overlook high above the beach in Biarritz, he is puzzled. He had lived and surfed in Biarritz prior to moving to Paris. He knows that bluff and can’t understand why anyone would step over the stone wall and eventually fall from the point. The local police chief, Jacque LeClerc quickly proclaims it an accidental death. But something doesn’t seem right to Ellis, so he contacts his old buddy from the area, the recently retired police investigator, Maurice Clavrie-Laporte.

I’ve just finished reading “Accidental Death in Biarritz” by David Robert. The story takes place in the late Eighties and I enjoyed the references to timepieces of that era, such as cassette tapes. I also appreciated David’s knowledge of that specific area and, like the inspector Maurice, his vast knowledge both gastronomical and viticultural of Southwest France. David also spices the novel with interesting historical facts about the region. And the author has been surfing in and around Biarritz since 1966 which also lends to his credibility.

I particularly liked the descriptions and character progressions of the Bad Guys (yes, there is more than one) in this novel. As a reader, they are truly people you love to hate. And there is a love interest for the protagonist as well; we are in France, after all. The supporting cast of minor characters also lend to the ride in this novel, a memorable troupe of personalities.

If I have a knock on the novel, it would be the author’s use of underlining words to strengthen their significance. This is something, I believe, the French do in their written language. But the novel is written in English and I found the practice of underlining disruptive and would have preferred italics. But the story builds to a nice crescendo and a nice, tidy aftermath that leaves the door open for a sequel.

David Robert is a graduate of the University of North Carolina. He has written another book, “Armando and La Baula,” a cautionary tale about the relationship between a Costa Rican boy and an aging female Leatherback turtle. David divides his time between North Carolina and the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. I have known David for several years and I am happy to see him pursuing his writing career. The fact that he is writing about surfing and that David lives in Costa Rica, I believe, justifies my review of his new novel.

Check for availability at Jaime Peligro Books & Adventure in Quepos and Jaime Peligro in Tamarindo.

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