Champagne:The Farewell, by Janet Hubbard, starts off with Max Maguire, a NYPD detective, flying to France to attend her friend’s wedding in Champagne, an hour and half from Paris. Chloé and Marc’s wedding is exquisite but ends in the tragic death of her aunt, Léa de Stain-Pern. Olivier Chaumont, an examining magistrate that hit it off with Max, is put in charge of the investigation. Max is also determined to find out who murdered Léa and puts her skills to task.
The evidence wasn’t disclosed but the scenarios were definitely pointing to the suspect so the ‘whodunit’ wasn’t a surprise. However, there were some surprises in the last few chapters that made it clear as to why the murder occurred.
The character development was good but I felt too many characters were brought into the story too quickly. It took me awhile to know each one with sometimes having to go back to the first chapter to pinpoint where the person fit in. The story did flow well and keeps the reader entertained.
Because the plot takes place in France the names of the people and places are unfamiliar to most American audiences, so trying to pronounce them or keep track became a challenge. As well, there were many French sayings/words in the story--some were explained but many were not. I felt, even though these were important to give the story French appeal and flavor, there were many times I didn’t have a clue what was said. Aside from looking into a French to English dictionary, it often got tedious.
The story has a little of everything: mystery, romance, life of aristocrats, and family dysfunction which made it a well-rounded plot. As I was reading Champagne: The Farewell by Janet Hubbard, I kept thinking it would make a great movie. The writing is brilliant and the plot enticing; an overall good mystery to delve into.
(Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views)