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Death in the Truffle Wood (Commissaire Laviolette #2)

3.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  231 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
In Banon, a small, peaceful village in upper Provençe, the local community's principal source of income is the cultivation and sale of truffles. Tourists rarely venture into this remote region, but a small group of outsiders have chosen to set up home on the outskirts of the village.

When one of them is found dead in the freezer of a local hotel, and when more bodies are di
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Minotaur Books (first published 1978)
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Sep 07, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
I simultaneously liked and disliked this book. Liked: quirky characters, rural location, truffle-hunting pigs, amusing 1970s setting. Disliked: terrible translation in spots, terrible proofreading (really, St. Martin's Minotaur???), lame repeat-for-the-reader ending (and leaving one character's motive in question, although you can certainly guess), all women described by breast size, hair color, and weight in kilos (in that order), unexpected sex/nudity popping up here and there. I suppose I was ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, european
I used to read a few cosies, although I was never totally addicted. But I've always been a huge fan of the quirky, odd and the just ever so slightly bats. Colin Watson, Charlotte MacLeod have been favourites for years. I'm adding Pierre Magnan to the list now.

Originally published in French in the late 70's, DEATH IN THE TRUFFLE WOOD was translated into English around 2005. There are a number of books in this series featuring Commissaire Laviolette, although I don't think Roseline makes an appear
Sep 29, 2012 Rich rated it it was amazing
Pierre Magnan, who died earlier this year, was the master of ’Provencal Gothic’, and Death in the Truffle Wood shows why. His ’unremarkable’ series cop Laviolette investigates the disappearance of a number of hippies from the town of Banon and uncovers a bubbling pot au feu of sexual obsession, avarice, witchcraft and truffles. Laviolette is an engaging protagonist, but the real heroine of the piece is the lovingly described truffle-hunting sow Roseline. Five stars.

Read my full review at http://
Reggie Billingsworth
Jul 25, 2016 Reggie Billingsworth rated it did not like it
As I struggled through translating first year university French I always thought it was my fault that I didn't 'get' the cryptic French style of erratic points of view, enigmatic statements and odd quirky 'humour' that left me always in a "Wha...??" state of mind.

Who would voluntarily read this drivel in it's original form?, I wondered. For entertainment? The painful effort was never worth the outcome.

Thirty pages into Pierre Magnan's Death in the Truffle Wood, professionally translated into Eng
Jun 27, 2014 Fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read and moments where you want to yell out "look behind you!" . And a great pig. All good.
Death in the Truffle Wood is a great little mystery, more old school than not. The premise is that deep in the heart of truffle hunters' Provence hippies last known to be at at a nearby commune keep disappearing. The unassuming Commissarie Laviolette is sent to lay low and see what he can see. Laviolette is a charming creation, a tough guy of tender susceptibilities. He has a bit of a wicked streak to his humor as well. The Commissaire also has a disarming love for stray dogs. Who couldn't love ...more
Jun 13, 2011 Marfita rated it it was ok
Recommended to Marfita by: Someone at the cozy mystery discussion on SL
Shelves: mysteries
First of all, I'm appalled by the cover. How do I know this takes place in France? Perhaps by the man in the horizontally striped boating shirt and the red beret? Where's his baguette?
Alyre has a prized Trüffelschwein who indicates clues everywhere but is ignored. Alyre is proud of his beautiful but unfaithful wife but, as he apparently loves the pig more, he doesn't let it bother him much. He is more upset when someone throws a stone and injures the pig.
Hippies who come to his town tend to dis
Nov 27, 2011 Ulysses rated it liked it
Shelves: to-reread
Having really enjoyed Pierre Magnan's The Messengers of Death, I was pretty excited to finally get around to reading Death in the Truffle Wood-- what with it having been written before MoD, I figured DitTW would be just as good, or probably even more so. Not quite, as it turns out-- although the book is still a pretty entertaining read. As with MoD, the immersiveness of the book's atmosphere is far and away its greatest strength-- Magnan sketches the rural Provence town where the story takes pla ...more
Oct 27, 2007 Pierre rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Francophiles; food lovers
Shelves: mystery, meh
An interesting read. The book starts out mysteriously and as it progresses, the writing and the mystery becomes more and more obscure. While the translator has managed to retain the French cadence of the text, the story is difficult to follow. The prose is wonderful though, and paints a beautiful picture of the French Provincial Countryside.

I can understand why other reviewers disliked the book, and my initial rating has now dropped from 4 to 3 and then to 2 stars. First, the transitions between
Mar 05, 2009 Michel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Judy
Shelves: mystery, doulce
Makes you smell the winter in Haute-Provence: the corky bark of the oaks, the rotting leaves, the sweaty sheep indoors, the wood burning stoves, the onion soup, the smoky cafe, the misty air…
And the contradictions of the 60s: avarice and poverty, superstition and hippie free love, diffidence and naivete, the hard unforgiving life in the midst of truffle riches. Claude Chabrol.
Then why only 3-stars? Didn't like it enough for more: musty atmosphere but no characters, I guess; we don't care that so
Jan 27, 2015 Edith rated it really liked it
I read this in conjunction with the truffling contest, so part of my enjoyment was how apropos the title was. The other part was the stereotypically French sensibility with which the novel was imbued. Sex got dragged in by the heels, by the hair; it popped up with the morning toast. Some day I will go back and make note of how many comparisons are made to the relationship between man and mistress, and to what.

My translated edition was not very well edited, but still a fun read.
Alan Pottinger
Feb 11, 2015 Alan Pottinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually love Magnan and Death in the Truffle Wood didn't fail , lots of murders with a glorious gothic tinge, I adore his characters and the way always intertwines his stories with folklore and mystery. - his plots are always unapologetically odd even if the mystery isn't always as sustainable as one would hope for - he's not everyone's cup of tea - but I love loads of bodies turning up in old crypts and spell casters veils rolling across forest floors. it's not really a book where you could p ...more
Hilary Tesh
Jun 07, 2014 Hilary Tesh rated it liked it
Translated from the French, which shows in some odd phraseology and, at one point, the sudden adoption of the first person plural to describe the weather! Disappearing hippies bring Commissaire Laviolette to a small village in upper Provence, in the depth of winter, to investigate. We are introduced slowly to the locals and it's chapter XIII before the first body is discovered. More corpses follow and another murder before the clues build up and lead the Commissaire to the murderer. It's all ver ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Amanda rated it it was ok
'The weather was too cold and too hostile for two people not to be irresistibly drawn together, given the opportunity.'

'It's difficult to remember a rambling conversation on a relaxed afternoon, with nothing more pressing to do than gently warm a balloon of good brandy in your palms.'

'Viaud was the one who found it - a slim brown volume, but a miserable, dirty brown - sitting in a bulbous chest of drawers beneath hundreds of love letters tied with pink and blue ribbon, more redolent of death th
Sarah Diesing
Jan 30, 2014 Sarah Diesing rated it it was ok
The author does a fantastic job of showing you the French countryside, French country people and their unique personalities. What he doesn't do is create a gripping story or crime to solve. The story doesn't make you try to figure the mystery out but just records the character's reactions to the murders.
Aug 25, 2009 Cynthia rated it it was ok
Shelves: french-mysteries
I'm glad I read this in English, not the original French, because it's so disjointed and loopy... If I'd read it in French, I would have been confused and thought it was my fault... I was disappointed in this book for several reasons. For one, the cover copy implies it's a "new" series but it was in fact written in the late 1970s. The plot revolves around "hippies" living in a French commune, so obviously Hippies and Communes are a different thing if you're reading about them in 1978 vs. 2009. A ...more
Clémence En catimini
Jan 28, 2014 Clémence En catimini rated it really liked it
Un livre dont on se plait à relire de nombreuses phrases plusieurs fois, tellement savoureux! Le contexte est très chouette, et la langue si vivante et juste qu'elle nous laisse presque des odeurs et des sensations en tête et en bouche.
Jerrilynn Lilyblade
Apr 26, 2014 Jerrilynn Lilyblade marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
Aug 19, 2016 Janet rated it really liked it
Have not read this author before, but I ready for more. And - he has several. On my list.
Feb 16, 2016 V added it
Enjoyed the book. Killer was well hidden. Easy read
Apr 17, 2014 Mel rated it it was ok
It was a bit strange. I had to really concentrate to keep up with who was who. Think I need something 'lite' now.
Jun 19, 2013 Monica rated it did not like it
Three stars for the descriptions of the countryside and village life in Provence in 1978.

Two stars for the characters - especially Roseline, the truffle hunting pig, and Mambo, the dachshund whose master is killed by his sister in a fit of greed. Laviolette is a conscientious cop, but a bit of a cipher.

Negative two stars for the plot. Lust crazed truffle farmer kills hippies to pour their blood on his trees to improve the yield so he can buy more jewels for his mistress who loathes him - how m
I just don’t understand it. I simply couldn’t latch into the plot of this book. I repeatedly lost my sense of time, place, and action. Eventually, half-way through, I stopped and looked at a fraction of my large stack of books-yet-to-be-read-for-the-first-time. So I resolved “That’s it. ‘Death in the Truffle Wood’ has had its chance. I’ve failed to find the truffle.”

Yet superficially everything about this book; plot synopsis, characters, location, time, cover design: all appeal to me.

Very puzzli
Apr 09, 2009 Sharon rated it liked it
This French police procedural finds Inspector Laviolette back in the area of France in which he grew up. He's there to observe and try to figure out what has happened to several young hippie types who have seemed to disappear into thin air while soujouning near the village of Banon, in Provence.

I enjoyed the reading though this was much lighter fare than usually found in the books my favorite French mystery writer, Georges Simenon, and his famous detective Maigret.
Jul 29, 2013 John rated it it was ok
A strange story. I'm not sure whether I liked it or not. Rather macabre with a hint of dark humour.
I wish my French was good enough to have read it in its original form. It is difficult to know if the style of writing is down to the author or the translator. Very unsatisfactory ending. I'm not sure why the body was in the freezer.
Despite this I feel that I would like to try at least one more of his books.
Aug 25, 2010 Anne rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries
Death in the Truffle Wood, a Mystery in Provence, was written in 1978 by Pierre Magnan, a popular mystery writer in France, and recently translated into English which has brought Commissaire Laviolette to American mystery lovers. There are some descriptions of village life in Hautes Provence which are charming and funny, but the mystery itself and the characterizations are thin. Read for the atmosphere.
Jul 20, 2010 Deb rated it really liked it
Takes place in village in Provence. Someone is killing the "hippies" that are traveling thru the village. The village makes their money thru the truffles they find on their land and sell. This killing interrupts the whole process. It gets resolved by the infamous Insp. Laviolette. Book won a lot of awards. Writer is famous in Europe and has won a lot of awards for his books.
May 27, 2011 Kris rated it liked it
I liked the truffle-hunting pig the best, and he did not have enough scenes in this murder mystery.

Some of the book was a bit difficult to follow, but the twisted plot about the murder of hippies was still interesting. Looking forward to trying one of the author's other books. I think he especially did well on the relationship between the pig and the owner.

Apr 25, 2016 Lynn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, donated
It was a quirky mystery, but not one that inspired me to read the next-in-series. I enjoyed the scenes with Roseline, but worried very much about the abandoned dachshund. I had trouble figuring out the main murderer, but couldn't figure out how the inspector discovered the secondary one. All in all, a worthy read, but not among my favorites.
Pjo Riley
Jan 12, 2015 Pjo Riley rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-fiction
The plot is plenty good, but what I like most is how this reads as so authentically French, the setting puts me right in the countryside where truffles are hunted, and the language has a French flair (I mean the English usage bears that flavor). I agree with the reviewer who called it -- delightful!
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Pierre Magnan was a bestselling French author of detective novels steeped in the sights and sounds of his beloved Provence; to readers, his sleuth, Commissaire Laviolette, was as indelibly linked to the land of lavender as Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse was to the colleges of Oxford.

Magnan’s autumnal years were prolific; he wrote more than 30 books and saw his novels adapted for French television
More about Pierre Magnan...

Other Books in the Series

Commissaire Laviolette (9 books)
  • Il sangue degli Atridi (Le inchieste del commissario Laviolette)
  • Le secret des Andrônes
  • Tod in Bronze
  • Les charbonniers de la mort
  • The Messengers of Death
  • Kommissar Laviolettes Geheimnis: Drei Krimis aus der Provence
  • Le parme convient à Laviolette
  • Élégie pour Laviolette

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