The Stuffed Coffin (Damien Drechsler's Investigations #1)

Title: The Stuffed Coffin (Damien Drechsler's investigations Book 1)
Author: Dieter Moitzi
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: January 6, 2019
Genre(s): Murder / Mystery
Page Count: 321
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read book blurb here

The French version of  “The Stuffed Coffin” (its original title being “Le cercueil farci”) has won the French award of Best Gay Murder Mystery 2019, the prestigious Prix du roman policier—Prix du roman gay 2019.  Congratulations, Dieter!

Damien is on a two-week holiday in Lekvos Greece, relaxing and exploring the beauty of the Greek countryside. He 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 [toggle title="Spoiler"] 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 [/toggle] is frustrating in that neither character can figure out what seems so obvious.

Finally, because the author is Austrian (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.

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