Monday, October 15, 2018

Angela Wren and the third novel in the Messandrierre series: "Montbel"




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Welcome, Angela and congratulations on your new novel, "Montbel" which comes out in November. Let's take a look at the blurb:


A clear-cut case? 
A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.
When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques' case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques papers and shut down the investigation.
Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?



Here comes a few questions about it. Are you comfy? Off we go, then:

Sue: I know "Montbel" is the third in the series starring delightful investigator Jacques Forêt. I described him in my review of the first book in the series, Messandrierre, asenjoyable, attractive character, with all the features that's expected of a French policeman: humour, determination, quirks.” Did I get him right, or is there more to him than that?

Angela: Yes, you did get him right and it's great to be able to say thank you in person for that lovely review too.  Jacques - what can I say about him?  I think  he's a great guy, he's honest and principled, but he still needs to settle down in his personal life.  And then there are those quirks - his grudging acceptance of computers, his dislike of lifts, and his repulsion of blood - which for an investigator handling murders can be a bit of a problem.  When I started thinking about what kind of man he would be I made some instant decisions - he had to have good manners, patience and be very astute. The rest of his character was built in the same as I build the characters I play on stage.  That means asking myself a lot of questions starting with the shoes.

Sue: What made you want to set your novels in France?

Angela: I don't recollect there being a conscious and deliberate decision to set my books in France.  But, I was travelling in the Cévennes (south central France) in September in 2007 when the weather dramatically changed overnight.  I woke up to freezing temperatures and a stunningly beautiful mountainous landscape covered in snow.  It got me thinking about how remote the area was and how easy it would be to use snow to cover someone's misdeeds.  I just jotted down some notes at the time.  About 4 years later, I was in Charente and having tea and cakes with some people I'd met in the local supermarket.  It was a chance remark during an innocent conversation that got me thinking about murder.  Some months after that I realised I had my crime and my location and that was when I started planning Messandrierre and the following three books in detail.  I've maintained the location, because it works and it is one of my favourite areas of France to visit, so I know it well.

Sue: I see in your reviews of “Merle”, the second in the series, that one reviewer said: “The BBC has given us a wide selection of tv detective dramas over the last few years - on BBC4 - and the career of Jacques Forêt would make a great addition to them. Producers please take note!” That’s wonderful. Who would you cast for your main characters?

Angela: Yes, that is a truly amazing accolade and I'm very grateful to that particular reviewer for saying so.  I'm still waiting for the call, though!  As for my cast - I haven't the least idea, but I would insist on the actor playing Jacques, having the right physicality.  He's tall and lean and he has a soft timber to his voice.  So Gerard Depardieu is absolutely out of the question.  Obviously, all the French characters would have to be French actors and little Pierre Mancelle would have to have a cheeky smile.  So, BBC, if you are reading this and want to make me an offer, just acknowledge up front that I will be doing the casting - OK

Sue: No, I don't think I can envision Gerard Depardieu. Let's give the BBC a shout-out! Tell us about your third novel, “Montbel” – perhaps a little excerpt?



What appears to be an open and shut case actually turns out to be something much more sinister and here's the opening section : 

la lettre


…families fracture, Monsieur Forêt. No one desires it or intends it, but it happens. A harsh, unforgiving word begets a rash and revengeful action, and a sliver of ice takes hold in a dark corner of the hearts of those at odds with each other. And there it wedges itself, the frost gradually deepening and destroying. One of us has to stop the cold, as this impasse can continue no longer.
I have to put things right with my son, Monsieur…


june 3rd, 2011


Sue: Wow, that's beautiful prose. Finally, would you recommend your new readers to take the books in order, or can they be standalone novels?

Angela: Each story is a specific crime but there are themes that run through from one story to the next.  Where there is reference to something that happened in a previous story it is briefly explained.  And of course, the villagers in Messandrierre crop up on the other books too as Jacques frequently visits the village.  It's not essential to read them in order, but it linkages between the stories will be clearer if you do.


Thank you, Angela. I’m really looking forward to reading Montbel and I wish you every success.  

It's a pleasure, Sue, and thank you very much for inviting me to your blog today.

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