Title: The Stuffed Coffin (Damien Drechsler’s Investigations Book #1)
Author: Dieter Moitzi
Release Date: January 6, 2019
Genre(s): Murder / Mystery
Page Count: 321
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
When you think you’ll be spending two peaceful weeks in a sleepy hole in Greece… and stumble upon three murders. Maybe even upon Love with a capital L…
Levkos in the northern Peloponnese—a dozy and bucolic village where the salty breezes from the Gulf of Corinth constantly carry the smells of maritime pines, cypresses, lemon, fig and olive trees… For someone going through a breakup, this is the perfect place where to lick one’s wounds, think, and relax. Damien Drechsler, expert translator of detective novels, has come here for a two-week-vacation to do exactly that.
But nothing goes as planned. On the first night, young Nikos seduces him with his beautiful smile. Then Damien is almost killed by a reckless driver on a narrow country road.
The next day he learns that an old man from the village has been run over and killed on the same road. Intrigued, he starts to investigate and discovers that that accident raises several questions. That’s when things begin to happen all at once. A well-endowed nudist tries to seduce him; a good-looking guy working for a car rental agency triggers off a misunderstanding with far-reaching consequences; Nikos plunges him into an emotional whirlwind. Worse, a lady tourist dies of cardiac arrest during a midnight swim in the hotel swimming pool. Strangely enough she seemed in perfectly good shape the day before, though…
In his unconventional manner, Damien tries to unravel these mysteries. But caught between an hostile policeman, a sports activity leader who disappears all of a sudden, and Nikos who ditches him just when he starts falling in love with the young man, he’s hard put to keep afloat.
Will he be able to discover what’s what? Will he disentangle all these riddles? Will he be able to make up with Nikos?
Damien is on a two-week holiday in Lekvos Greece, relaxing and exploring the beauty of the Greek countryside. Damien is part of a Thalassa Voyages tour staying at the White Beach Hotel, with planned activities facilitated by activity and sports directors as well as guided side trips in the area. We meet many of Damien’s fellow vacationers including the excessively chatty Mrs. Marchand and Mrs. Delatte, Madame Regnier, Madame Durand and her police inspector daughter; author Dieter Moitzi gives us a full cast of quirky characters in the tour group as well as locals.
Dieter is content to drink good coffee and relax by the pool with a drink in hand. On his first night, Damien meets Nikos, a beautiful Greek boy and they head off to a deserted beach to get intimately acquainted. Walking back to the hotel, Damien meets an old man, soon after hears a spirited argument followed by a gunshot and then is almost run down by a car. The next day he learns the old man is dead and shortly thereafter a member of the tour group is found dead in the hotel swimming pool.
Damien is a translator specializing in detective novels, and his interest is piqued by the unusual circumstances of the two deaths. As the story slowly unfolds (at times a bit too slowly), Damien works to pull the pieces of the puzzle together, as well as figuring out his developing relationship with Nikos. The story works for me in many ways, but a pivotal scene in the mystery
- when Damien and a secondary character are basically kidnapped and held in another location and each passed out after having a drink with the same person
Finally, because the author is French (and translated his novel into English), I felt some cultural illiteracy on my part at times. For example, I often wasn’t sure of various popular culture references (apparently Rocco Siffred is an Italian porn star/director/producer) or idioms. (Edited on 2/6/19: The author has let me know that the Kindle version of “The Stuffed Coffin” available for purchase has the X-Ray option which provides more information on book contents. This option was not available with my ARC format.)
But I enjoyed the convoluted murder mystery plot and the cast of interesting characters, although I didn’t entirely feel a strong sense of chemistry between Nikos and Damien. 3.5 stars and I’m looking forward to reading more from Dieter Moitzi.