Magnan, Pierre 1922-
Magnan, Pierre 1922-
Born September 19, 1922, in Manosque, France.
Home—Forcalquier, France. E-mail—[email protected]
L'aube insolite (also see below), Julliard (Paris, France), 1945.
Lignes de force, Julliard (Paris, France), 1946.
Le monde encerclé, Julliard (Paris, France), 1950.
La mer d'Airain, Julliard (Paris, France), 1961.
Le sang des Atrides, Fayard (Paris, France), 1977.
Le commissaire dans la Truffière, Fayard (Paris, France), 1978, translation by Patricia Clancy published as Death in the Truffle Wood, St. Martin's Press/Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.
L'homme rejeté, Fayard (Paris, France), 1979.
Le secret des Andrônes, Fayard (Paris, France), 1980.
Le tombeau d'Hélios, Fayard (Paris, France), 1980.
Les charbonniers de la mort, Fayard (Paris, France), 1982.
La maison assassinée, Denoël (Paris, France), 1984, translation by Patricia Clancy published as The Murdered House, Harvill (London, England), 2000.
Les courriers de la mort, Denoël (Paris, France), 1986.
La naine, Denoël (Paris, France), 1987.
L'amant du poivre d'Ãne, Denoël (Paris, France), 1988.
Les secrets de Laviolette, Denoël (Paris, France), 1991.
Les enquêtes du commissaire Laviolette, Poche (Paris, France), 1991.
Périple d'un cachalot, Denoël (Paris, France), 1993.
La folie Forcalquier, Denoël (Paris, France), 1995.
Les romans de ma provence, Broché (Paris, France), 1996.
Un grison d'Arcadie, Denoël (Paris, France), 1999.
Le parme convient à Laviolette, Denoël (Paris, France), 2000.
Le mystère de Séraphin Monge (sequel to La maison assassinée), Poche (Paris, France), 2000, translation by Patricia Clancy published as Beyond the Grave, Harvill (London, England), 2002.
Innocence, translated by Patricia Clancy, Harvill (London, England), 2001.
L'arbre, Poche (Paris, France), 2002.
L'enfant qui tuait le temps, Broché (Paris, France), 2002.
Laure du bout du monde, Denoël (Paris, France), 2006.
Le voilier des déserts polaires (travel book), Flammarion (Paris, France), 1977.
Pour Saluer Giono (literary criticism), Denoël (Paris, France), 1990.
Les promenades de Jean Giono (travel book), with photographs by Daniel Faure, Editions du Chêne (Paris, France), 1994.
Devantures du midi: Provence, Languedoc, Côte d'Azur (travel book), Broché (Paris, France), 1997.
L'Occitane: une histoire vraie, Denoël (Paris, France), 2001, translation by Richard Seaver published as The Essence of Provence: The Story of l'Occitane, Arcade Publishing (New York, NY), 2003.
L'aube insolite (teleplay; based on his novel), directed by Claude Grinberg, 2002.
(Editor, with others) Ecology, Behaviour, and Conservation of the Charrs, Genus Salvelinus, Springer (Heidelberg, Germany), 2002.
Apprenti: mémoires (autobiography), Denoël (Paris, France), 2003.
Le secret des Andrônes was adapted by Bruno Tardon as a television movie, directed by Sam Itzkovitch, 1982; La maison assassinée was adapted by Georges Lautner and Jacky Cukier as a film, directed by Lautner, released by Gaumont International in France, 1988, and distributed by Cine Qua Non in the United States, 1990.
Pierre Magnan is the author of numerous mystery novels set in the Provence region of France, as well as of nonfiction books on Provence. His mysteries portray a Provence that is often dark and dangerous, in contrast to the idyllic image popularized by other authors. Some of Magnan's mysteries have recurring characters; several center around Commissioner Laviolette, a police detective. Only a few of his works have been translated into English; these include La maison assassinée, published in an English translation as The Murdered House in 2000, and Le mystère de Séraphin Monge, published in an English translation as Beyond the Grave in 2002, both of which deal with a strange, haunted—and, perhaps, haunting—man named Séraphin Monge.
The Murdered House finds Séraphin, who had been orphaned as an infant, returning to his small hometown in Provence after World War I and learning how his parents really died—they were murdered, along with his two brothers and his grandfather. He decides to tear down his family's inn, where the murders took place, and in doing so comes to believe that the three men who had been executed for the crime were not the real killers. He finds evidence incriminating three influential villagers, including the fathers of two women, Rose and Marie, vying for his attention. Tortured dreams of his mother fuel Séraphin's desire for vengeance, but he realizes someone else is also after the suspects—and him.
"Magnan staggers his revelations deftly, generating maximum suspense," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Chris Petrakos, writing in Chicago Tribune Books, described The Murdered House as "cerebral" and "intriguing," though he found it paced somewhat slowly. New York Times Book Review contributor Sudip Bose thought the novel sometimes unsubtle, yet mentioned that Magan's "plot is inventive and his narrative is energetic," and his portraits of character and setting are "gripping." Entertainment Weekly critic Nikki Amdur also deemed the characters distinctive, and further remarked that the story unfolds "hypnotically" and is "gratifyingly unpredictable."
In Beyond the Grave, Séraphin apparently dies, swept away in a mudslide while chopping down trees. A body believed to be his is buried, but several people report seeing him walking around the village, and miraculous events begin taking place at his tomb; for instance, Marie's son is cured of blindness. Magnan tells the story in the first-person plural, with narration by various groups of townspeople. This is "an unusual and effective device," observed Jane Jakeman in London's Independent. According to Caroline Cummins, writing in January online, "it's a mesmerizing effect, and gives the book that feeling of true possibility inherent in all good novels." Jennie A. Camp, reviewing Beyond the Grave for Denver's Rocky Mountain News, praised this approach as well, but thought the novel shifts focus too often, from Séraphin to the women who had loved him to Marie's little boy to others. "Séraphin's ghost overshadows all, of course, but it is difficult to decide on what level we should read him, and just what Magnan intends for us to uncover," she wrote. A Kirkus Reviews commentator voiced no such reservations, however, calling Beyond the Grave "a story of the first rank—intriguing, exotic, and extremely strange."
Magnan's 1978 novel Le commissaire dans la Truffière, translated in 2007 as Death in the Truffle Wood, struck many reviewers with its wit and distinctive style, which Booklist reviewer Emily Melton likened to a combination of Robbe-Grillet, David Lynch, Agatha Christie, and Peter Mayle. The plot concerns the disappearance of a group of hippies who have lazed around the truffle-producing village of Banon. When a farmer reports that his prize truffle-sniffing sow, Roseline, has been injured, Commissaire Laviolette arrives to investigate, only to find that he has a multiple-murder case on his hands. Melton hailed the book as "delightful and unusual," while a writer for Publishers Weekly praised the "sly wit and compassion" with which Magnan treats his characters.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2007, Emily Melton, review of Death in the Truffle Wood, p. 24.
Entertainment Weekly, September 15, 2000, Nikki Amdur, review of The Murdered House, p. 72.
Independent (London, England), October 12, 2002, Jane Jakeman, review of Beyond the Grave.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of Beyond the Grave, p. 1421; June 1, 2007, review of Death in the Truffle Wood.
New York Times Book Review, September 10, 2000, Sudip Bose, review of The Murdered House, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, July 31, 2000, review of The Murdered House, p. 72; July 28, 2003, review of The Essence of Provence: The Story of l'Occitane, p. 89; May 21, 2007, review of Death in the Truffle Wood, p. 39.
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), January 3, 2003, Jennie A. Camp, "Continual Shift of Narrative Intensity ‘Grave’ Flaw."
SciTech Book News, June, 2003, review of Ecology, Behaviour, and Conservation of the Charrs, Genus Salvelinus, p. 80.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), September 3, 2000, Chris Petrakos, review of The Murdered House, p. 3.
Euro Crime,http://www.eurocrime.co.uk/ (March 11, 2008), Karen Meek, review of Death in the Truffle Wood.
January,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (January, 2003), Caroline Cummins, review of Beyond the Grave.
Pierre Magnan Home Page,http://pagesperso-orange.fr/lemda/index.htm (March 11, 2008).
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/ (March 11, 2008), Pierre Magnan profile.
Reader's Robot Instant List,http://www.tnrdlib.bc.ca/rrindexes/il-693.html/ (March 11, 2008), Harriet Klausner, review of Death in the Truffle Wood.