Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Review: Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Militant Midwives

Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Militant Midwives by Michael Bond
2 stars

Reasons for reading: the title (although I confess I thought it was "Militant Housewives" until the end of the book); mystery for the Triple 8 Challenge; Michael Bond created Paddington Bear!

Synopsis (from Amazon.co.uk): Having delivered a particularly stirring speech at his recently deceased colleague's funeral, Monsieur Pamplemousse is more than a little disturbed when the coffin explodes into flames during the ceremony. Luckily, his faithful hound Pommes Frites gives out a warning cry just in time, so there are not casualties. But, who exactly is behind this explosion - and what was the actual cause of his late co-workers demise? This latest in their wild romps find the entertaining duo meeting a CIA agent masquerading as a celebrity chef with a penchant for Krispy Kremes, causing chaos at a prestigious hotel, and experimenting with a dog translator.

My thoughts: This just didn't do it for me. I see now that it's #15 in the series (my library only has a few, so I didn't realize it was that long-running) and I really felt as if I needed to have read the previous ones. For most of the novel I felt like I do when I miss the beginning of a movie - even if I can catch up with the plot, I still don't quite feel like I'm getting the full experience.

I enjoyed Pommes Frites and there were certainly some very funny, slapsticky moments (some of course involving "dog's doings," of course, but the dog translator was a hoot), the whole mystery of the food terrorism was really hard to take seriously and the perpetrator wasn't very surprising, though I never really understood their motive for it (I was starting to skim a bit by the end). And I couldn't really buy that Le Guide (basically a fictional Michelin) was involved in covert anti-terrorism work (food-related or not), though perhaps it was because I didn't have the backstory from previous books.

Also, the militant midwives don't even come into it until the last few pages and, as I said, I'd been expecting militant housewives the whole time (which is my fault for misreading) - but they're just spoken about it in one scene. While it certainly makes for an intriguing title, they're just one small last-minute plot device and M. Pamplemousse doesn't actually have anything to do with them, so that was a bit weird.

If you've read the series and are looking for more Pommes Frites, or are a cozy mystery fan/dog lover/gourmand, this could be for you, but I suggest you start at the beginning of the series to avoid feeling as confused as I was.


heather (errantdreams) said...

Interesting. This doesn't tempt me to this book, but it does make me want to read an earlier one...

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Heather - I'd say that's a good plan. This one really felt like it was kind of dashed off to be added to the series, yet I could see there was some potential. The earlier ones are probably great.