The Messengers of Death, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


In a sleepy Provencal village, retired postman Emile Pencenat is busy digging his own grave when he spots an unstamped letter in the cemetery's disused postbox, addressed to a Madamoiselle Champourcieux.

He dutifully posts the letter. When the body of this same Madamoiselle is later discovered - pinned to her piano with an ancient bayonet - Commissaire Laviolette is coaxed out of retirement to solve one of the most bizarre crimes imaginable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Espionage & spy thriller
  • ISBN: 9780099470199



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Originally published in French in 1986, The Messengers of Death tells the tale of a series of crimes that occur in the 1960s. Pierre Magnan skillfully takes readers back to what seems a quaint and simpler time in the countryside of southeastern France.Over his long career, Commissaire Laviolette has learned a great deal about the habits of people who live in small villages. He's an observant, intuitive sort of policeman who knows that the postmistress undoubtedly reads the mail that comes in and out, and he also believes that the reason for these crimes lies in the past. When one needs stored memories, where better to go than the local old people's home? His interactions with all the townspeople allows Magnan to show their foibles to perfection.Another area in which the author excels is in using the setting and the weather to affect the mood and to create tension and suspense. In more than one scene, the killer is moving through the rooms in the victim's home, and Magnan had the hair standing on the back of my neck. (If I'd been reading late at night, I would have jumped a mile if a floorboard had creaked.)I know that some readers worry about translated books, but I had no problems with it at all. I slid easily into the story and quickly became so intrigued that I had to know how it ended. At times throughout the book, I had to smile. Each woman's appearance and sex appeal are speculated upon in a manner that did not offend me in the slightest but made me wonder if Magnan had been a bit of a ladies' man. This book is not only an enjoyable mystery, it also oozes French charm and wit. Do I recommend Pierre Magnan's books? Bien sûr!

Review by

I found a copy of this in my local library after my appetite for this author was whetted by reading "Innocence". I was not disappointed, but this is a tale which requires attention and patience from the reader. Magnan writes in a complex and evocative style, which I imagine must present a considerable challenge to a translator. On the other hand, I'd imagine it was a labour of love. This may explain why not all the books of this series have appeared in English-language editions.

Review by

Looooove Magnan. Love love love him. I only wish he were as prolific as Christie. Sometimes I worry that I'm going to outlive the supply of toothsome mystery novels.

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