What happened to Jacques Gaillard? The brilliant teacher at the École Nationale d’Administration, who trained some of France’s best and brightest as future prime ministers and presidents, vanished ten years ago, presumably from Paris. This ten-year-old mystery inspires a bet—one that Enzo Macleod, a biologist teaching in Toulouse, France, instead of pursuing a brilliant career in forensics back home in Scotland, can ill afford to lose. The wager is that Enzo can find out what happened to Jacques Gaillard by applying new science to a cold case.
Enzo goes to Paris to meet journalist Roger Raffin, the author of a book on seven celebrated unsolved murders, the assumption being that Gaillard is dead. He needs Raffin’s notes, and armed with these, he begins his quest. It quickly has him touring landmarks such as the Paris catacombs and a château in Champagne, digging up relics and bones. Then Enzo finds the actual head of Jacques Gaillard. The artifacts buried with the skull set him to interpreting the clues they provide and following in someone’s footsteps—maybe more than one someone—seeking the rest of Gaillard’s remains and reviewing some ancient and recent history. As with any quest, it’s as much discovery as detection, and Enzo, despite all his missteps, proves to be an ace investigator, scientific and intuitive, who definitely meets his goals.
Peter May is a Scottish television screenwriter, novelist, and crime writer. He has won several literary awards for his novels.
©2006 Peter May (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“This travelogue-cum-murder mystery makes for a fun puzzle.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A thoroughly engaging puzzle.” (Library Journal)
Enjoyable and engaging story. I always enjoy exploration of cities through the eyes of characters and this book takes you into parts of Paris I didn't know existed.
The mystery itself is a good tale as well.
"Engaging hero, stellar narration"
Comparisons to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code are valid, as much of Dry Bones is a scavenger hunt for clues to a murder. In my opinion, Peter May’s writing is stronger, particularly in character development. I never really got Langdon, but Enzo MacLeod – now that’s a flesh and bone character. Middle aged and a little worse for wear, he’s flawed, has made mistakes and has regrets. But he’s smart, intuitive and has a big heart. The supporting characters are also believable, with lives of their own aside from their roles in progressing the plot.
The one weakness in the story is how long it took to get through the scavenger hunt, which did little to suggest motive or possible suspects for the murder. It dragged us around Paris and the surrounding countryside, but the hunt was mostly engaging with unexpected mayhem thrown in along the way so it’s not wasted time. The final third of the story is where the dots get connected and it kicked into a new gear. Although the ultimate motivation for the murder was a little soft, the action was good.
I tuned into this series because I truly loved May’s “Lewis Trilogy” (sadly no longer available to Audible in the US), and wanted more of his writing. I’ve started with this first one and will continue on, definitely cherry picking the ones narrated by Simon Vance. His ability to give credible voice to MacLeod’s Scottish brogue, the various French characters, male, female, young and old, was a significant factor in relating to the entire cast.
"Delightful find! First of the Enzo Files"
I am always looking for new books in the mysteries and thrillers category. I tried this on a whim and am so glad that I did.
This is not the formulaic finding gruesome crime scenes and trying to put together the clues to find the killer. It's a cold case based on some dry bones and scavenger hunt type clues that lead to more bones with more clues. During the process of solving the old crime, there are some new victims and an array of potential perpetrators.
Enzo himself has an interesting professional background and personal life. He is challenged to this seemingly impossible task both intellectually and monetarily. He is urged on and abetted by the (good guy) challenger. However, he is also led astray by the bad guys.
I found this a delightful change in the murder mystery genre. I look forward to listening to all of the other Enzo Files books.
"How did I miss this great writer! So glad I I found him,I couldn't put it down"
This is my kind of book. Great character development - of great characters! The plot is very creative with clever twist and turns. Brilliant ! I would recommend this book to British mystery lovers in general. If you like author Josephine Tey, Detective Morse and the like, I think you will appreciate this writer as well.
I was so impressed with this book ( I think it's a series) I'm about to order another book by this Author.
The story was okay, but once again it was Vance that made it worth listening. The story was a little predictable and overwrought. It was entertaining, but not totally engrossing.
I would try another book written by May, but not tops on my must read.
"A B minus at best, well maybe a B"
I downloaded this book because the narrator is one of my favorites, Simon Vance, (No one is better at Trollope!) and because of the setting - Paris and various areas of France. In those two aspects I was not disappointed. Vance was great as always, switching seamlessly between French and Scots accents and his pronunciation of French phrases and place names was, as far as I could tell, excellent.
I particularly loved following the story through in Paris, all most all of which took place in areas I am familiar with and love. The other areas, I am less familiar with, but I followed those portions on Google Maps. I even picked up and understood some of the French phrases. (I am a linguistic savant and can order food and say please and thank you in several languages!)
The two factors above almost made up for the fact that the story was not that great or believable. Granted, it is difficult for mystery/thriller writers to balance realism and an intriguing storyline, but I found it difficult to buy into this one.
Finally, a romantic relationship is a legitimate part of the plot, but I personally find graphic sex off-putting. Its inclusion seemed to be formulaic, as if its supposed to be part of the genre. I would not have selected the book had I known. Wish Audible could come up with a rating system for sex, violence, language, etc.
"The Prince of Serendip (sans Sagacity)"
When your author makes excuses for the unfathomable good luck of his detective with statements like this, "Enzo was beginning to feel like one of the Three Princes of Serendip," you know that you're being fed a lazy tale where accidents, rather than sagacity, are the dominant theme.
The premise of this quasi-detective story (the main character is not a cop, but a biology professor) is seriously flawed - the protagonist (Enzo) takes a case on a bet. Other motivations are not clear…perhaps he's bored. Once he does engage, we follow his left turns over this "Pont" and onto that "Rue," around French postcard cities, generally unengaged with the author's sideshow cuisine and wine forays. Few North Americans can reference Enzo's urban(e) wanderings, leaving the listener feeling like he or she has just departed a boring dinner party where the hosts showed their guests a slideshow of a recent trip to France. After awhile it all blurs into a bland Ratatouille stew.
To keep the listener attentive, the author makes a futile attempt at mimicking Umberto Eco's, The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum. But, Peter May is no Umberto Eco. Some reviewers equate this novel with Brown's, Da Vinci Code. However, Dry Bones is far too random and cliche to rise that far.
Personally, I think Peter May should try his hand at travel writing. He seems to know a great deal of trivia that may be of interest to the Francophile in a few of us.
"Good start, but..."
I picked this up on one of the sales, and thought it was not bad for the start of a series. However, since Audible does not carry the next one in line, I will not skip forward to #4 and #5. I have tried that before on other series, and it just doesn't work. Will visit my local library instead.
I found the characters in this book interesting and likeable, although how the protagonist could be classified as a genius is difficult to understand, since it seemed to me that the other characters did most of the "discovering". The French pronunciations made it sometimes difficult to follow, but it was interesting to listen to them (I have no idea if they were correctly pronounced or not, but they sounded good). In my opinion, this was written for a European, not an American audience, so I guess that is understandable.
Most of the tech/computer jargon was out-dated...I assume the author was very impressed with it at the time it was written, but it is pretty common to almost everyone nowadays. Tech does not generally pass the test of time, and in my opinion, should be kept to a minimum, if at all. I found it distracting.
Simon Vance is "as always". Nice voice, but little characterization. Constant pace, but not a hint of drama. I've often thought he would be better narrating just histories or bios or other non-fiction.
All in all, I would think this is better in book form than audio.
"Story unconvincing, atmosphere good"
The story is entirely unconvincing, but it takes place in numerous picturesque parts of France, so there is a vicarious pleasure in the protagonist's travels. Doyle is a good reader, but his rendition of the younger daughter's voice is so whiny and "precious" that it made this reader hope she'd meet a quick end. I gave the story 3 stars and the performance 4. Somehow that added up, in the Amazon scheme of things, as 4 stars, which is much too high.
"Kept me intrigued"
Great story with interesting characters. Love Simon Vance. I am moving on to the Enzo stories.
"10 Year Old Case and 50 Something Scottish Prof"
Very interesting mixture of atmosphere, mystery and clues, as Enzo searches for the killer of Jacques Gaillard who went missing over ten years ago in Paris . . . Enzo MacLeod, having left a career in forensics back in his native Scotland, now teaches at university in Toulouse, France . . . when Enzo begins digging up the bones of Jacques, each body part comes with a clue . . . the story is captivating, leading into the darkest and strangest places in France . . . could've been a five star if it weren't for the silliness of Enzo's affair with Charlotte and the description of their antics in bed . . . good resolution to the murder . . .
"A man with new tech to get blood out of stones."
Enzo Macleod has made a bet, to resolve a crime that has been left open by the french police, he will use new forensics, to get blood out of stones.
I loved the character, he is charming and distinctive, with his family and lady complications. The ambiance of Paris and the french idiosyncrasies of privilege and politics, make and excellent scenario for our scottish friend; but I did not enjoy the clue laden crime as much.
An ok beginning to a good series, that improves with the next parts of the next mysteries. Entertaining and charming if a little too heavy on the complexity of the crime.
"kept me interested from start to finish."
very different to the China thrillers but still great. it had the same intricacies of detail about the locations and the plot was original and thoroughly enjoyable.
I didn't have any problems with the accents that other people seem to have had. they were consistent and easily differentiated between the different characters.
I would definitely recommend and will be listening to the next in the series.
As a Scot, I found the narrator's ' Scottish ' accent grating and difficult to listen to. This spoiled my enjoyment of the story.
Love Peter May's books. Great story only spoiled by narrator whose Scottish accent was about as good as Dick Van Dyke's cockney one in Mary Poppins. Peter Forbes is so much better at bringing Peter May's books to life.
I struggled more than a little because I really couldn't get passed the appalling narration
I enjoyed Simon Vance reading Hilary Mantel's books. But oh dear, this was awful. I could almost forgive the french accent but the Scottish accents were abysmal. Having just really enjoyed listening to the Rebus collection read by James McPherson this was positively painful and detracted from the whole experience. If you can't do the accent justice, just read the book, we will cope much better.
Probably if narrated by some one else
James McPherson might be available
"Best Peter May story I have listened to so far"
Very gripping plot
The Girl nwith the Dragon Tatoo. The author's complete mastery of susspense and twists and turns, together with his evident knowledge of France, and the places where he sets the plot, makes this story a great one.
No, but I will search him out in future.
Yes, when Kirstie was at risk of drowning, and her father and her sister's boyfriend were trying all they knew to save her.
If you want a fabulous "read" , read by a very good narrator, look no further.
I was put off starting this series from Peter May because of rather lukewarm reviews. I did however finally take the plunge and I'm glad I did because I actually quite enjoyed. No this is nothing like the tremendous Lewis series - but then this isn't a dark,brooding tale. No it isn't as atmospheric as the Chinese detective series either - in fact the reviewer that said it was a cross between Dan Brown & the Famous Five wasn't actually far off the mark. For a bet Enzo is investigating a number of unsolved murders using today's forensic science (well loosely anyway) - and the books are just nice easy listening. Enzo does have a tendency to fluctuate between sounding like BIlly Connelly and Sean Connery, but he's a likeable enough character and the plots and clues a lot more probable than some books I have read or listened to. I cannot understand the complaints about Peter Vance's accents, I think the reading is excellent with just enough accents thrown in to easily recognise the cast of characters. No this may not set the world alight but its a decent enough series and well worth a listen.
"Dry Bones, dry story"
Too many unnecessary street / place names as though to prove that the author had done his research and knew France
"Good murder mystery for Francophiles/Francophones"
I would recommend, but would tell them I found the book entertaining, if a little predictable at times, and it went at a good pace with enough excitement to make me stay in bed one Sunday morning to listen to the last 6 chapters! Peter May writes about women from a man's perspective - I don't mean sexist, but more how he would like women to be than how they really are! (Work this out, men!) Nevertheless, I enjoyed his story and enjoyed his wry humour - maybe because I am a Scot and it is such a Scottish thing. Other writers criticise the accents - well, one narrator can only produce so many accents - as a Scot I found it quite authentic (West of Scotland). Also a lot of French used - seems logical to me as it was first printed in French, from what I can gather from internet, and why change those bits when it helps you to learn a bit more of the language of the country in which it is set. Good for those interested in France and happy to learn a bit about the language and country. I've spent a bit of time in France and found it all quite authentic, en fait.
Kinda guessed half way through who the main perpetrator was/would be, but found the ending quite exciting - as mentioned above. The 'changes' in the family relationships were also quite predictable - but perfectly believable.
Oh, Enzo! And it seemed to me that Simon Vance enjoyed being Enzo and tried very hard to get his character right - and I thought the accent was fine.
Maybe the loss of his second wife. He appeared to have discarded the first one easily enough but he didn't have time to get tired of the second one. Nor did he seem to have struck up any other long-term relationships in the 18 or so years since she had died, so maybe it was the real thing. (I'm a cynic!)
Peter May is not Georges Simenon or Ian Rankin, but I thought the book might be of interest to readers of these two authors. It was well written and I enjoyed all the bits of 'education' e.g. Champagne production; and the catacombs of Paris.
A different narrator - the one who did Entry Island was much better.
The accents were dire - I tried to proceed but I just couldn't get past them.
Do try other Peter May books!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.