Synopses & Reviews
A young woman is found murdered...and the clues to her death point to her spurned lover, Paul Cézanne.
In this richly atmospheric novel, a mysterious young woman named Solange Vernet arrives in Aix-en-Provence with her lover, a Darwinian scholar named Charles Westbury, and a year later is found strangled in a quarry outside the city. The young and inexperienced magistrate, Bernard Martin, finds his investigation caught in the crossfires of a raging cultural debate. Many of the more conservative residents of Aix, including Martin's own police investigator, believe that Solange reaped what she sowed for entertaining such radical scientific theories.
Initially assuming that Solange's murder was a simple crime de passion by either a spurned Cézanne or a betrayed Westbury, Bernard soon finds himself on a mission to unravel the secrets of Solange and Cezanne's hidden past the key to which may be a series of his paintings which depict the strangulation and violation of a woman with golden-red hair.
Exploring questions of science and religion and the role of women in these realms that persist even today, Cézanne's Quarry is an impressive debut mystery about life, death, love, and art.
"Could Paul Czanne be a killer? That's one of the disturbing prospects confronting novice magistrate Bernard Martin in August 1885 as he starts to investigate the murder of Solange Vernet, a recent transplant from Paris whose brutalized remains are discovered near a favorite haunt of the painter's outside Aix, in Pope's provocative debut. Was the freethinking beauty with the flame-colored locks slain by her lover, self-professed Darwinian scholar and likely scam artist Charles Westerbury, as Martin's boss contends, or by a smitten Czanne? Martin quickly recognizes that the case could be a career maker or breaker if he antagonizes the artist's powerful family without overwhelming evidence. Pope animates her canvas with plenty of vivid period detail, but subplots, romantic and otherwise, dilute the suspense; later she telegraphs what should have been a surprise ending. Still, Francophiles and history buffs will find much to like. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Pope creates an enthralling cozy complete with captivating characters and a riveting plot set against the lovely backdrop of 19th-century Provence. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Pope's debut includes much fascinating information about the artist and life in late 19th-century France. Its mystery feels more like a MacGuffin enlivening a picaresque roman a clef." Kirkus Reviews
"Pope mixes fictional and historic characters with great dexterity, offering a portrait of Cezanne as a tortured soul, wounded by his past and stuck with a mistress he does not love." Oregonian
About the Author
Barbara Pope is a historian, an award-winning teacher, and the founding director of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Oregon. Barbara has lived and worked in Provence, where Cézanne's Quarry is set, and currently resides in Eugene, Oregon. This is her first novel.