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Bittersweet Oblivion (Molly Sutton Mysteries 11): Large Print

Bittersweet Oblivion (Molly Sutton Mysteries 11): Large Print

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cozy mystery

Immerse yourself in French village life

Read a description of the series

Boston girl Molly Sutton moves to a village in France to heal after a divorce--but then a girl goes missing. Follow the intrepid expat as she uncovers secrets and chases down murderers in charming Castillac, eating a few pastries along the way.

Read Chapter 1

Chapter 1

June 2008

Florian Nagrand, coroner of the village of Castillac, drummed his fingers on his desk and looked out the window.

“Must you?” said Matthias, glaring at the drumming fingers as he swept the floor for the second time that morning.

“Must you?” said Florian. “We’re not going to eat off these floors, you know.” He heaved a sigh. “Nobody ever tells you that the worst part of a job is when there is nothing to do. It is torture. We sit and we sit, and no one dies. I feel entirely useless. Are we to do nothing but sit here and pick our noses, day after excruciating day?”

Matthias jammed the broom into a corner, trying to dislodge a bit of dirt wedged up in there. He was lanky and tall for a Frenchman, in his late thirties, with longish hair that looked well taken care of. “‘No one dies’ is generally thought of as a positive,” he said. “So sorry no one has expired for your entertainment.”

“That is not what I meant,” said Florian, springing up from his chair as well as he could, given how his weight had ballooned from giving up cigarettes. “Let’s go have lunch.”

“It is 10:00,” said Matthias.

Florian dropped back into his chair with another dramatic sigh, combing his fingers through what was left of his hair, which though sparse, could have used a trim.

“Bonjour fellas!” said Molly Sutton, poking her head around the door. Her curly red hair was untamed as it usually was; she was short and sturdy, built a bit like a fire plug. A cute fire plug.

“Never thought I’d hear myself say I’m glad to see you, but here we are,” rasped Florian, getting back up and going to kiss Molly on both cheeks.

“I will do my utmost to take that as a compliment,” she said. She looked at Matthias. “I don’t believe we’ve met? I’m Molly Sutton, I run the gîtes at La Baraque just outside the village, on rue de Chêne.”

Matthias shook her hand and made a rather courtly bow. “My pleasure,” he said. “I am Matthias de Clare, minion of Monsieur Nagrand.”

Molly considered him. “Have you been here long?”

“In Castillac? Since birth, Madame.”

“Funny that I haven’t met you before, the village being so small.”

“What she means to say is, Madame Sutton has raised the bar on our local custom of knowing all we can about everyone else’s business. First as a civilian, and now…well, still technically a civilian, but a professional one. You might have heard of Dufort/Sutton Investigations?”

Matthias nodded. “You’ve done some good work,” he said, bowing again. “Excuse me,” he added, and took his broom into the next room and continued to sweep.

Molly smiled to herself, amused that she had met another serious sweeper, having a few months earlier made a friend in Aix-en-Provence who also swept with a great deal of dedication.

“I tell you, Molly, as perhaps you are the one person of my acquaintance who would truly understand—there’s nothing for me to do, absolutely zilch, zero, nada—and it is really too much to bear. I figure our local Angel of Death knows what I’m talking about,” he added. He might have winked but Florian was not a winker.

“Angel of Death, that’s going a little far. And a bit rich, coming from a coroner.”

“Eh, you can call me…uh…Minister of Death? No, that’s no good. Death Wizard?”

“Nice try,” said Molly. “Maybe we should play Dungeons and Dragons sometime.”

Nagrand snorted.

“I’ll have you know that one of the many reasons I moved to France was to escape crime. All I wanted was peace and safety.”

“It’s been my observation that what we think we want is rarely the whole story,” said Florian. 

“Life takes unexpected turns,” she said with a shrug.

Florian rubbed his thumb and forefinger together, missing cigarettes with a sudden obliterating passion.

“So what’s the deal with Matthias de Clare? How long’s he been working for you?”

“Oh, forever. He lives…well, I don’t know the exact house, but somewhere toward the south end of the village. Good worker. Keeps to himself.”

“I’ll say. I thought by this point I’d met most everyone in the village.”

Molly had moved to Castillac on something of a whim, looking to get over a divorce. That had been just three years ago, but there had been a great deal of water under the bridge since then. (If by water, you think dead bodies and their murderers, plus marriage, and an entirely new career.)

“Well, I just dropped by in case…not that I had any hopes, really…it does seem as though this calm and peaceful period in the village shows no signs of abating. As bad as that is for business, it’s obviously the best news and I’m glad about it. I was out for a walk and figured I’d come say bonjour.”

Rebonjour,” said Nagrand, mocking her for saying it twice and after they had already been in conversation for some time.

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” said Molly, grinning. “All right, I’m going before you find something else to make fun of. See you on the flip side.”

The door banged behind her. Florian closed his eyes and listened to the sound of Matthias sweeping in the next room.

Maybe I should take up cigarettes again, he thought, just for a week or so. The idea seemed a very good one.

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Pink roses. Pink lipstick. Don’t be fooled.

Our intrepid detective, Molly Sutton, is giddy at being back home in her beloved Castillac. Yet giddy as she is, she’s skeptical about the latest Castillac death.

Did the poor man die of natural causes? Has Molly finally gone too far with her suspicions
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