Author: Angela Wren
Genre: Cosy Crime
Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre.
But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won't give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.
Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim?
Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt
saturday, june, the present
It was clear that Will Coulson was worried when he walked through the open door of the gendarmerie. His face had lost its brightness, there were dark shadows under his grey eyes, and his initial report to Jacques was earnest and angst-ridden. Jacques came back into the cubby-hole that served as an interview room and put a mug of coffee on the tiny table in front of Will.
Picking up the statement, he resumed the interview in English. “So, Rob Myers, your travelling companion, aged twenty-two, was last seen by you at the campsite here in Messandrierre around two on Wednesday afternoon.” Jacques looked at Will for confirmation and he nodded in response. “And on that day, before you separated, you both agreed to meet at the campsite in Mende on Thursday. That was the day before yesterday.”
“Yeah. We were going to try out this night club on Friday.” Will nursed his coffee.
“The place on Causse d’Auge?”
“Umm…” From his wallet he pulled out a card and studied it. “Yeah,” he said, putting it on the table facing Jacques. “A mate of mine found it last year when he was here and said it was full of… well. He said it was a good place.”
Jacques stared at him. Full of women is what you really meant to say. “OK. And when Rob didn’t arrive in Mende on Thursday, you did what?”
“Well, nothing to start with. I just thought he was onto a good thing, that’s all.”
“A good thing?”
“This woman we’d met on Tuesday. Rob’s really into photography and so was she. They were getting on well, if you know what I mean.” He shuffled in his chair and picked up his coffee.
Jacques sat back and waited to see if he would say more, but was disappointed. “And on Friday, when he still didn’t turn up?”
“I just texted him. ‘S’pose she’s worth it.’ That’s all I put.”
“What time was that?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know. About eleven-ish, lunchtime or something like that.” He picked up the mug, took another sip and put it to one side and leaned forward on the table. “Then when he didn’t turn up in time to go the club I phoned him but his phone was switched off.”
“How can you be sure of that? Perhaps the battery was flat.”
“No, he’s got his charger with him. He never lets it get flat.”
Jacques grinned. “Perhaps he didn’t want to be interrupted. He’s twenty-two, got a woman…”
Will sat up. “No. You don’t understand. He doesn’t turn his phone off. He uses it constantly and he always responds to texts. And when he misses a call he always calls back or texts. He just doesn’t turn it off like that.” He stared at Jacques. “He doesn’t. He just doesn’t!” He thumped the table with the flat of his hand in frustration. “And all his gear is missing too. I’ve been back to the campsite. His stuff’s all gone. His bike, his tent, everything.”
“OK. Calm down.”
“Well, do something then,” shouted Will. “He’s gone. He wouldn’t just bunk off like that. He’s a good mate.”
Jacques picked up the statement again and in a low voice said, “I will look into it but let’s get all the details first. And you need to understand that Rob, in the eyes of the law, is a responsible adult and he is free to move around as he chooses.” However, in Jacques’ mind, there were strong possible similarities with a previous case. “This woman he was with. Do you have any details? A name, an address?”
Will frowned for a moment. “She’s here. Right now!”
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Why is your featured book a must-read?
In the words of one reviewer, 'This story of village gendarme, Jaques Foret, in central France with a city background zipped by end to end in no time.' He goes on to say that '... the author has the talent to grip this reader's attention, and hold onto that attention. Good going when writing about a small community where nothing much happens beyond an occasional borrowed bicycle. Then there are the missing person reports, which on closer inspection and backtracking reveal a number that warrants a deeper investigation.' He adds that '...with a side order of romance between the gendarme and a part time resident Englishwoman' you should 'treat yourself.'
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Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.
I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.
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