Former forensics expert and current Toulouse professor Enzo Macleod is forced to take a break from his personal and professional pursuits when he is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Worse, though, it seems he has become the victim of someone who is trying to destroy his life–by ruining his credit, threatening him and his family, and finally framing him for murder.
With no choice but to fight back, Macleod stashes his family in a safe house and sets to work. Increasingly convinced that the cold case he’s investigating is connected to his persecution, Macleod tries to connect the dots before it’s too late to save his life and the lives of those he loves.
This is Peter May’s third instalment in the Enzo Macleod mysteries, I read and reviewed the first instalment, Extraordinary People, in 2017. This one, like the first, has an intriguing premise, and, for the most part, the story itself twists and turns—although, somewhat predictably—as Scottish forensic scientist, Enzo Macleod, delves into a cold case: the death of a rent boy years earlier.
The part I enjoyed about the first book, and this one as well, is the setting. Set in France, May’s detailed descriptions of each place is wonderfully depicted. You really get a feel for the locales as the characters move from one town and city, to the next.
What I have a problem with, is May’s depiction of his female characters, and the tawdry, sexist descriptions of every woman featured except, of course, his two daughters. Thankfully, the author decided not to debase these characters with Enzo’s appraisals, making the man sound like a dirty old paedophile. Which I’m sure wasn’t the author’s intention, or, maybe I’m wrong.
I just find it annoying that the entire novel is sabotaged by this kind of erectile-dysfunctional writing by middle-aged white dudes who seem to pigeon-hole women as sexual objects, and visualised as ‘lookers,’ ‘hookers,’ and ‘one-night stands.’
Even the Commissaire (Chief of Police in Cahors) Hélène Taillard, someone who should command respect, get’s the Enzo treatment, and is reduced to someone he almost had sex with, but was interrupted in flagrante delicto by his daughter. Not that this fact has anything to do with, nor any baring on, the story as a whole.
The plot also struggled with a number of contrivances, as in Enzo’s one night stand with a woman he meets in the bar, in Strasbourg, who—later on in the plot—conveniently offers him, his two daughters (by different marriages), their boyfriends, and a young grad student, lodgings at her remote farmhouse, as if it were nothing to worry about—does she do this all the time?
Sarcasm aside, what could have been an enjoyable romp through the French countryside, solving a cold case homicide, is undermined by the author’s depiction of the female characters and, therefore, made for an irritating painful read rather than an enjoyable one. A sad disappointment on way too many levels.
The Enzo Files #3
Paperback, 398 pages