It reads like a story from the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency only this plot unfurls like peeling a French onion.
The Lost Notebook is the latest brilliant novel set in Brittany by the prolific award-winning writer Louise Douglas who lived and wrote in Nailsea during her children’s schooldays.
Its genre is murder mystery with malevolent forces at work.
Consumed by grief for a much-loved stepsister Mila is plagued by thoughts from the deceased as she grapples with the responsibility for a bereaved teenaged niece.
Eventually as the plot unfurls even the tough are forced to face fears and shed tears.
Mila is a girl’s own heroine who longs to be a published writer.
While sorting out her personal life she works with her glamorous French stepmother in her investigation agency.
The pair follow in the footsteps of Mma Precious Ramotswe invented by Alexander ‘Sandy’ McCall Smith for his Botswana series and the ageing Miss Marples from the Agatha Christie's crime novels as tenacious female detectives.
However, digging for clues in this story hinges on a nearby archaeological dig – oh and I learned the word ‘menhir’ meaning standing stone which is in the book, didn't know that.
It is a great summer holiday read and the irony of being on the beach in Croatia isn’t lost when the brutal Yugoslavian war comes into play.
What is the connection between the characters - the academic and the itinerant old lady, the Canadian motorbike rider (Marlon Brando with dreadlocks) and (in a Percy Shelley-like boating accident) the parents lost as sea.
Were the deaths suicide or well-staged murder(s), who is the safest bet for future happiness a youthful object of lust or the undemonstrative man who stayed at home? And what will Mila do next?
The paragraphs are intertwined with beautiful descriptions of flora and fauna, fashion and food that make you hungry for more…and we are told this could happen…
To order the paperback published by Bollywood at £9.99 from Amazon click HERE it is also available on Kindle.
Other books published by Louise:
The Love of My Life (2008)
Missing You (2010)
The Secrets Between Us (2011)
In Her Shadow (2012)
Your Beautiful Lies (2014)
The Secret by the Lake (2015)
The House by the Sea (2020)
The Scarlet Dress (2021)
The Room in the Attic (2021)
The Lost Notebook (2022)
The Secret of Villa Alba (2023)