REVIEW: Impure Blood by Peter Morfoot (Paul Darac #1)

Series: Paul Darac

Book Number: 1

Read this book for: European mystery, multiple related investigations, race/religious discussions, historical ties

Quick Review: A longer read, with multiple interconnected threads and enough motives to keep you guessing throughout, this thoroughly engrossing read should be on your list for a new flavor in your crime reading.

***

Nice, France, is in the midst of a heatwave. Poised for the hottest event of the year – the annual local stage of the Tour de France – a new threat puts the Brigade Criminelle on alert to protect the riders and crowds. But is this threat connected to the recent and mysterious murder of a man in plain sight on a busy street? What secrets does the dead man hide, how is he related to the threat, and how can Captain Paul Darac protect the members of his own team against the unknown?

IMPURE BLOOD is the first novel from Peter Morfoot about Captain Paul Darac. It’s longer than the average crime read, but provides an interesting and satisfying blend of setting, historical background and contemporary questions about religious and racial themes – as well as an engrossing, thriller-style read.

This novel is set in Captain Darac’s home of Nice, France, and Morfoot does a good job of capturing the glamour of many of its tourist areas, combined with the roughness of other areas of the city. He also manages to convey the excitement of the Tour as a local event and the interesting and vibrant mix of people quite convincingly.

That interest and diversity is shown in the very large cast of characters contained in IMPURE BLOOD. While at some points there are so many primary- and secondary-level characters in play that it gets a bit confusing (especially if you are reading the book very quickly, or if you have put it down for a few days), the sheer range of characters is very impressive. Their backgrounds, personalities, and histories all seem very well developed, and Captain Paul Darac is a very sympathetic character.

While his personal struggles will not be a surprise to long-time fans of the crime genre, Darac is warm and likeable enough to be easy to follow through the satisfyingly complex and varied plot threads that all eventually converge to a tense climax. The Brigade and Darac are called on to investigate everything from kidnappings, to rape, to a murder in a crowded place that even Christie would approve of, to terrorist threats. I have to applaud Morfoot for being able to tie all of those elements together with the history of the area and one of its main annual attractions. The plot design in that respect is masterful.

Overall, I would have to recommend IMPURE BLOOD, particularly for the construction of the plot mixed with the local colour of Nice. If you are tired of bleak and dreary detective novels, pick this one up for a vibrant, satisfying read.

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