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by Juliet Hebden
Constable, March 2002
240 pages
16.99 GBP
ISBN: 1841195200

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This is the seventh in Juliet Hebden's Pel series, since she took over the books from her late father. In this novel, Pel is thrown into a major mystery over the Christmas period. They are warned of an armed robbery, but what should have been a simple operation turns into a tragedy. Paris gets involved in the operation and soon things are going from bad to worse. Can Pel solve the problem and bring harmony back to his beloved Burgundy?

These days, English and American police procedurals are easy to find in any bookshop. Those set in other countries are a lot harder to get, especially originally in English, rather than in translation. This was the first French police procedural I had read and was pleasantly surprised. Hebden creates a superb sense of place, really bringing Burgundy alive. She does include a large amount of French words but for those non-Francophones, they are explained or are easy enough to work out.

The plot was intriguing and it certainly made me think. I didn't work out what the real plan was and the ending was an interesting surprise, making a sequel entirely possible. Hebden also included some nice little touches, such as snippets of news information - both fact and fiction - to add to the authenticity, and there was also some wry humour which certainly raised a smile.

'Pel And The Nickname Game' is well written, interesting and intensely enjoyable. If you have never tried a French police procedural before, this is certainly a good place to start. Although it is part of a series, you can easily pick it up and it will not spoil the other books too much. Highly recommended.

Editor's Note: This book is available in the UK from Crime in Store or from your favorite independent bookseller.

Reviewed by Luke Croll, July 2002

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