Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Reader's Diary #847- Michelle Wan: Deadly Slipper

Have you seen Adaptation (otherwise known as the last good movie Nicolas Cage was in)? It was my first exposure to the idea that something as... well, I won't say boring... much as a non-thought as orchids, could be the center of a mystery. Actually many mysteries. It turns out that orchids inspire a lot of fanaticism, and where there's fanaticism, there's potential for all sorts of trouble.

Over at Flashlight Worthy, Leah Smith has compiled a whole list of orchid mysteries. Michelle Wan of Guelph, Ontario has based her entire writing career around orchid mysteries. Deadly Slipper is the first of four books in her Death in the Dordogne series, set in the Dordogne region of France, which is how I came upon this book. Back in March I was loading up my eReader with books to read while in France, looking especially for books that also had a Canadian connection. Michelle Wan lives in Guelph, plus both the primary victim and sleuth of Deadly Slipper are Canadian, so it fit the bill. (The other book I chose was Vimy, by Pierre Berton). Unfortunately I wasn't able to fit it in until now.

Deadly Slipper was fun. Anyone reading my blog over the past year might remember that my forays into the mystery genre have been less than successful. That attitude led me to not have the highest of expectations where Deadly Slipper was concerned. However, just coming off a really serious holocaust memoir, I was in need of a diversion and Deadly Slipper fit that bill quite nicely. I mean, it still deals with murder, but it's entertaining murder. The game of potential suspects kept me on my toes, which is all I really ask. That it was set in France and now I have some memories of the place (though not the Dordogne region, specifically), was an added attraction.

Deadly Slipper involves a Canadian woman named Mara Dunn investigating the disappearance of her twin sister in the Dordogne region nearly twenty years prior. All she has to go on is a set of poor quality photos from a camera she believes belonged to her sister. One of those photos is of an orchid, so she enlists the help of a local orchid expert to help her investigate.

It's not a perfect book. It starts to stall a little toward the middle, but fortunately picks up again. My other beef might make me sound nitpicky, but nonetheless it decreased my enjoyment. In one scene, Mara sneaks into a house to look for clues about a suspect. In his medicine cabinet she comes across some pills labeled acétaminophène. She emails a friend to have her look into what it might be used for. Seriously? Is there a Canadian that wouldn't recognize acetaminophen? Of course it turns out to be headache medication, no different than Tylenol, but it's a failed attempt at a red herring. To make matters worse, it appears that it would be unlikely to be labeled as such anyway in France. According to the websites I've come across, they usually refer to the drug as paracetamol, not acetaminophen or acétaminophène. Now if a Canadian woman were to come across paracetamol and be curious as to what it was used for, that would have made more sense. Small detail, but an annoying distraction nonetheless.

Otherwise, a pleasant summer mystery.


Jules said...

And the whole acétaminophène scenario, is the exact reason why I usually avoid mysteries. Because no matter how hard I try I find every little detail like that and pick it apart. This one sounds not bad, but still not the book for me.

Heather said...

I did pick up on that as well, but dismissed it. Mara may be good at what she does, but it doesn't mean she knows meds at all. I know people who would not have known that.

i also was looking for a diverting read as my dad was dying at that time. It did well diverting me.