by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of The Mortality of Matias by Annette Moncheri, and an interesting interview with Annette. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of The Mortality of Matias, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
The Mortality of Matias: A Madame’s Murder Mystery By Annette Moncheri
I was so very lucky to come across Annette Moncheri as she introduced her Madame’s Murder Mystery series in October, 2018, with the first novella The Passing of Pascal along with books 1-4 and a prequel. At that moment I became a loyal fan and Annette earned the #1 spot on my “Best New-to-Me Authors” for 2018. Her cover with the Eiffel Tower and a colorful flapper with just the hint of a droplet of blood immediately grabbed my attention. The series checked off all the boxes to make me a fan from my favorite setting, clever plots, vivid descriptions, fun banter, rich characters, and a very engaging, unique twist.
Annette Moncheri has created a delightful world in 1920s Paris primarily set on the Íle Saint-Louis, and introducing readers to Madame, a very unique lead female character. Madame is strong and clever, the owner of the high-class brothel Le Chat Rose, and with my favorite all-time cozy twist…Madame is a vampire. Yes, a vampire! She is very careful not to reveal her secret and her particular thirst is “tastefully” managed. She uses her extraordinary senses and talents to investigate murders that always seem to occur near her, but with one issue I’ve not seen in vampire lore. Madame is unable to travel across running water, and since she lives surrounded by the Seine, she can never leave the Íle Saint-Louis.
I highly recommend the entire Madame’s Murder Mystery series which earns 5+/5 glasses of champagne…don’t swirl! (She’ll explain.) Each book invites Karma in to join the festivities with a clever murder from wrong-place-wrong-time victims to disgruntled patrons, angry wives, innocent bystanders, and clients, and more than a few suspects, motives, and perilous predicaments to entertain. Also…I love the clever titles!
Prequel The Murder of Mariano
1—The Passing of Pascal
2—The Expiration of Elise
3—The End of Isabelle
4—The Parting of Pierre
5—The Death of Daisi
6—The Mortality of Matias
7—The Finish of Fiore (soon to be released)
The Mortality of Matias earns 5/5 Signet Rings…Engaging, Entertaining, Clever!
The evening at Le Chat Rose is filled with reverie, but drama is never too far away. First issue…Gachet, the night chef, and Linnea, the maid, are locked in a disagreement over Gachet’s connection to the Friday the Thirteenth Club. Her strong Catholic background lends itself to superstition, and the Club flaunts their efforts to challenge superstitions at every opportunity. Madame tries to facilitate a detente, but she herself finds the Club fascinating enough to want to attend their next meeting. Next drama…A courier arrives with a letter for her friend Hélène Bachlet marked urgent. Hélène had only departed a few minutes before, and with business seeming to be running smoothly, Madame decides to deliver the letter herself to her friend. Trying to find her friend at Coralie’s party, drama doesn’t stop with surprise attendees: an overly attentive gentleman, a fist fight, and a dead body at the bottom of the stairs many say deserved it, so who did it?
Once again Annette Moncheri has penned an engaging journey following Madame as she seeks out several party guests with motives of which Karma would approve. She listens. She questions. She collaborates with the handsome Inspector Baudet. The ending? Just the “Wow!” I expected. The narrative is written from Madame’s “I” perspective and sprinkled with French phrases (Mais oui, it’s Paris!). It was so entertaining and unique how readers are often addressed directly with “Dear Reader” or “Dear Delicious Reader” (Delicious? Must be her vampire personae speaking). She speaks to readers in the introduction to her tale, offers a tip on champagne, and provides reminders of previous details or character connections. The narrative is totally engaging with Madame’s inner thoughts and vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds, and quirks of Íle Saint-Louis and its residents. Do vampires love? I’m pleased that in Annette’s world Madame does have an “electrifying” connection with the Inspector; definitely something to root for.
This sixth book, as well as the other novellas, is less than 80 pages and easily read in an hour, but don’t think for one minute that readers are in anyway shorted! I was entertained, surprised, intrigued, anxious, and eager for more. In fact, the cover may have caught my eye, but it is Annette’s well-written story and well-developed characters (I love Madame!) that have made me a forever fan!
Our Guest…Annette Moncheri,
Author of Madame’s Murder Mystery series
KRL: It is great to have with us Annette Moncheri, author of the very entertaining Madame’s Murder Mystery series, celebrating the new release of the sixth novella, The Mortality of Matias. Can you give us a mini biography for Annette Moncheri? Who is she and what influenced her to become a writer?
Annette: I grew up in a family of writers and avid readers, and I spent my entire childhood with my head buried in a book. I have always loved the classics especially. As a ten-year-old, my favorite book was Jane Eyre.
Probably because of reading classics, I have a somewhat romantic idea of the writer scratching with a quill pen by candlelight in a cold garret, escaping through the power of the imagination into other worlds and times.
I want writing to be as magical and as romantic an experience as possible, and that’s part of why I love writing Madame’s Murder Mysteries—I have the opportunity to create something I feel is both of those things, and to live in that world for hours at a time.
KRL: Is there a reason you chose to write in the cozy mystery genre? What is it about cozies that interested you?
Annette: It was my Muse who wanted a cozy mystery series, and I obediently agreed—and she and I have had an excellent working relationship on this project so far! But I must say that I love cozies because everything is so light and fun (other than the initial murder, of course!). It’s wonderful to visit a world where nothing is ever terribly distressing and where the main character has the power to set everything right by the end of every story.
KRL: In October 2018, you released five very engaging novellas all at one time starting with The Passing of Pascal. I was hooked by the cover image of a flapper and the Eiffel Tower. The cover didn’t deceive as I was totally entertained by the 20s era and brothel aspect of Le Chat Rose, but Madame being a vampire? Soooo, cool! Can you give us some insights into how the series started?
Annette: I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed it! The concept came to me in a burst of creativity. Of the writing projects I’ve attempted so far, this is the one that has been most directly influenced by my Muse. I invited her to supply time, place, and main character, and I promised to work with whatever she gave me. We’ve worked together on all the rest—mainly, I figure out the plot and she supplies the characters.
KRL: I am a Francophile myself loving Paris with personal memories of Íle Saint-Louis, cafes, food, wine, and standing atop the Eiffel Tower. How does the Paris setting define your story? What made you choose Paris?
Annette: I have done my best to make the series as unmistakably French and as immersive as possible. I thoroughly enjoy watching period French movies, finding vintage French photography, etc., and drawing those elements into the stories. The research almost feels like a guilty pleasure, but of course, it is productive too.
I think that the French feeling—that certain je ne sais quoi—is an essential element of the series and couldn’t possibly be removed without destroying it.
One of my favorite story elements is how Madame is eternally trapped on the tiny Íle Saint-Louis in the center of Paris because, as a vampire, she cannot cross the running waters of the Seine. It’s a fun conceit that would work in very few places in the world.
KRL: Your bio mentions you are “une americaine, but a francophile.” How did your fascination for all things French come about?
Annette: I’m not sure I could pinpoint a moment where it arose—perhaps when my mother taught me a few words in French when I was a child. I have always loved the French language—it was my chosen language in high school, and I took French as an elective every year of college as well. Since then, I’ve been influenced by books like Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman and Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer Scott. Of course, there’s no substitute for traveling to France, which I am sorry to admit I’ve not yet managed to do. Soon!
KRL: The characters you’ve created are so real…their personalities, manner, and relationships. Do you have a personal connection to any of them? Can we find you in Madame or one of the other characters? Did you write your characters by taking real-life people and “changing the names to…,” you get my drift?
Annette: I give credit for the characters to my Muse. The characters appear in my mind’s eye, and they are usually fully formed as individuals right from the beginning. I often go in search of pictures on the internet that look similar enough to what I see in my mind, because I love to look at the pictures as I write the dialogue.
I do feel that Madame is a part of me—or perhaps I am a part of her. Her voice is so distinctive, and it’s such fun to ‘tune in’ to it.
KRL: You have made my “Best New-to-Me Authors of 2018” list, and I highly recommend the six novellas including the prequel, The Murder of Mariano, fans can access by signing up for your newsletter. What does the future hold for Madame? Will you be continuing the series in 2019?
Annette: Yes, certainly! I will continue the series for the foreseeable future; it is open-ended, and I can imagine so many more fun stories to come. There will be more eccentric new characters and more uniquely French elements.
KRL: I enjoy your writing style, clever plot lines, and the unique first-person narrative with Madame occasionally addressing the reader. Do you any plans to write another cozy series? Any plans to write in a different genre?
Annette: Thank you so much for all the kind comments! Right now, I expect that all my writing efforts will remain with Madame and Le Chat Rose, but of course a writer never really knows where the Muse will send her next!
KRL: Writing can be very personal and unique to each author. What is a day of writing like for you? Do you have a special place you like to write? Any French good luck charms to make for a good writing day?
Annette: Despite my visions of writing alone in a garret, the fact is that I am a social writer. That may sound odd, but what I mean is that I love to schedule sessions with my friends where we meet at a coffeeshop and chat for a bit and write for a bit. Also, I love writing at La Madeleine cafes, because of the rustic French environment and because I often hear expats there speaking in French!
KRL: Getting published can be a difficult. How did you go about getting your series published?
Annette: I contemplated taking the “standard” route of pursuing an agent and from there a traditional publisher, but I learned that agents are not interested in short works, or even collections of short works, from unknown authors. The only possible way to bring Madame’s Murder Mysteries to readers was to take the liberty of publishing it myself – and so that is what I did.
KRL: I am a big audiobook fan and find myself hearing voices when I read. I even hear a French accent when I read Madame’s words. Have you thought about turning your “Madame” series into audiobooks?
Annette: Mais oui! I will have to find just the right narrator to capture Madame’s voice, and of course, she will have to have a French accent! I will start that process very soon. I have just released the collection of the first six novelettes on eBook, and I will produce a print version of that collection in a few weeks and the audio version thereafter.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Annette: I love shopping at thrift stores! I suppose it’s the thrill of the hunt and finding one-of-a-kind items.
KRL: Ok, here’s something fun, Annette…Rapid Fire!
Ready! Set! Go!
Coffee or Tea? — Herbal tea, because I can’t have much caffeine – it gives me heart palpitations!
Dog or Cat? — Two cats, but I love dogs immensely.
Carnivore or Herbivore? — I so admire vegetarians and vegans, but I can’t seem to manage it myself.
Pie or Cake? — Oooooh…. both, of course! Pecan pie and chocolate cake.
Picnic or 5-star Restaurant? — A picnic for lunch followed by a restaurant for dinner! (Is that cheating?!)
Print/eBook or Audio version? — eBook—I have tried several times, but not really gotten into audiobooks yet.
Theater or Wait for the DVD? — Theatre… I love the big screen.
Favorite Actor? — I just cannot come up with one favorite… ! But my most recent movie crush is Eddie Redmayne in Fantastic Beasts.
Favorite Actress? — Milla Jovovich, especially in The Fifth Element—which of course had so much French influence, being directed by Luc Besson and the costuming provided by Jean Paul Gaultier.
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? — C’est triste, I can’t drink alcohol! No alcohol, no coffee… my life would be nothing without chocolate…
Beachfront Property or Cabin in the Woods? — The beach, if I’m wading barefoot on a beautiful warm day.
Active or Cuddling in a Comfy Chair? — I am, in fact, a cat… all I want is a snuggly spot with a blanket!
Finish these sentences:
If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be – Sylvia Beach, who owned the Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris in the 1920s and 30s. She published James Joyce’s Ulysses when no one else would, and she was the first to bring Hemingway to the world. And yet she was humble about everything she did. She was like a gardener who put her energy into cultivating something beautiful and then stood back and let it speak for itself.
If I had just one wish, it would be — Well, world peace, of course! But for myself, perfect fluency in French.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world for one day, it would be — A Frenchwoman living in Paris—I would take so many notes for my books!
KRL: This has been great connecting with you. We’ve covered so many topics and had some fun, too. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Annette: Nothing else, Kathleen, thanks!
Thank you, Annette, for joining us and sharing a little about yourself and your books.
To enter to win an ebook copy of The Mortality of Matias, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “mortality,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 26, 2019. If entering via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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