Book Review: Coq au Vin (Nanette Hayes Mystery #2) by Charlotte Carter

Coq au Vin by Charlotte Carter
My rating: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ (4 stars)
Publisher: Open Road Media Mystery Thriller

I was in the mood for a cozy-ish mystery and have had this in my ebook pile for a while so decided to give it a go. It's the second in a trilogy but I didn't feel lost and Nanette's voice is strong and funny and wrapped me up in her story. Her beloved and estranged Aunt Viv finally makes cryptic contact with the family from Paris and is in need of help. Nanette, being fluent in French and very familiar with Paris, is dispatched by her mother to find Viv and help in any way she can. What follows is part Paris love letter, historic black experience abroad, jazz tour and effervescent romance that lasts just longer than champagne bubbles all bound in family ties that are more complex than Nan could anticipate.

It was a great read and I blew through it quite quickly as I was enjoying it so much. I know next to nothing about jazz so I wanted to look up every song cited, played and talked about. I very much enjoyed the importance of music not just in the story but Nanette's life overall. Another highlight for me was the way Paris came to life through Nanette's eyes, from the meals to the light to the people in the streets and clubs. It was all very vivid. I was sad any time one of Nanette's favourite boรฎtes was no more and replaced by some retail outlet and I cheered when she found a new place to love. There's even a Maigret mention. The resolution of the mystery was a surprise and I liked that. Everything was woven together well and no threads left dangling and nothing crazy was used to explain it. I'd definitely read another in this trilogy to see what Nanette is up to. Truth be told, I'm sorry to know there are only three books featuring her. Recommended.

Some of my favourite quotes run from the witty to those that provoke further reflection. A sampling:

"Over dinner the previous night, the b.f. (the sh*thead's name is Griffin) had announced, number one, he wouldn't be spending the night at my place because he had other plans, and number two, he had other plans... period."

"To this day, when I hit the dancefloor I look like a holdup man who realizes too late that his victim is carrying a taser."

"I felt a kick then. RIght on the shin. I knew who that was: my conscience, Ernestine. I just kicked the bitch right back. Yes, I'm a liar. I told her; a deceiver, a coldhearted Air France slut. I was thinking not of my Aunt Viv in a French drunk tank but of the braised rabbit in that bistro on the rue Monsieur le Prince."

"Give me your tired, your poor... your Manolo Blahniks... your tart tatin."

"So this is how it ends, I thought fleetingly. Me beaten to death by skinheads. Aunt Viv starves to death in a back alley or rots in prison. Mother, grief stricken, carted off screaming tot he insane asylum. Daddy, riddled with guilt, commits suicide. Negro angst turned Wagnerian."

"For all my musical forefathers, it had to do more than just make the pain go away. God. Negroes and their pain. What the f*ck were we going to do if suddenly it all did go away? Would we even know who we were anymore?"

"Yes, through the music of the past I had, like Andre, found a way to honor my forefathers. But I knew there was something terribly dishonest about the way I lived. It wasn't just living in a fantasy world, it wasn't just being phony- it was wrong. It's wrong not to live in the here and now. It's cowardly and pious and arrogant and wrong."

Summary: After a series of harrowing events, sassy self-taught saxophonist Nanette Hayes is back to her routine: street performing from the theater district to Riverside Park to Park Avenue, haunting the music stores on Bleecker, hanging out at the mobbed-up strip club where her BFF, Aubrey, is the reigning diva, and, to keep her mom in the dark, inventing more and more tales about her fictitious job at NYU as a French teacher.
When Nanette’s overprotective mother tells her that her glamorous, bohemian auntie Vivian has gone missing in France under mysterious circumstances, Nanette is dispatched to Paris to help. Paris—her favorite city! Nan has to keep her focus on the mystery at hand and not on the coq au vin and Veuve Clicquot and jazz clubs. But the vibrant scene turns out to be the very thing that leads her deep into the underbelly of historic Paris, the crux of her aunt’s disappearance, a twenty-year-old murder—and a sexy duet with Andre, a gifted violinist and fellow street musician from Detroit who puts his life on the line to prove his love for her.

No comments