Seven Days Dead is the second of three novels by the Canadian novelist John Farrow featuring retired Detective-Sergeant Emile Cinq-Mars of the Montreal city police. The common thread that ran through the first book, The Storm Murders, was that each in a series of murders took place after a natural disaster. Seven Days Dead is based in large part on the same device. It’s well written, the principal characters are drawn in three dimensions, and it’s suspenseful to the end. Like its predecessor, however, the resolution is overly complex and ultimately unsatisfying.
Now sixty-six years of age, Cinq-Mars and his much younger wife Sandra arrive at a picturesque village on the coast of New Brunswick to begin a long-awaited vacation. In short order, the village is buzzing with news of a savage murder. The village’s popular pastor has been tied to a tree, sliced open, and eviscerated on an isolated trail near the ocean.
Seven Days Dead (Storm Murders Trilogy #2) by John Farrow @@@ (3 out of 5)
Meanwhile, the old man who has a virtual monopoly on the town’s leading businesses died the same stormy night in the enormous mansion where he lives high above the shore. The local Mounties have never been confronted with any murders, much less one that reeks of such savagery. They are desperate for help from the famous retired detective. Cinq-Mars stoutly resists their pleas. Predictably, however, Cinq-Mars is soon drawn into investigating not just the murder but the old man’s death as well. But that’s as far as the predictability goes. The case turns out to be inordinately complicated, and Cinq-Mars is challenged to his limits both mentally and physically before he can resolve matters.
One thing lifts Seven Days Dead out of the realm of mediocre murder mysteries: Cinq-Mars is a supremely intelligent and thoughtful man who is clearly far more sophisticated and philosophically inclined than anyone might think a Detective-Sergeant would be. His thinking is intellectually challenging and makes reading the book worthwhile despite its limitations as detective fiction.
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