Book review: Jean-Luc Bannalec’s Brittany mystery series

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The Brittany mystery series are now one of the most popular mystery series in Germany. The author, in spite of his very French sounding pseudonym, is actually a German writer named Jörg Bong. He is however a real lover of Brittany and you can feel it in each of his books.
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Book review Brittany Mystery series
Unfortunately, only the first books are translated in English. If you want to discover the books, you can read:
The Brittany mystery series let us follow the cases of Parisian detective, commissaire Dupin, who was muted from Paris to Brittany after problems with his hierarchy. At first, he has to adapt to the cultural differences but he soon begins to love deeply Brittany and the people there. The cases take place in different places in Brittany, which enables to discover different aspects of the Breton culture. For instance, the first book of the series takes place in Pont-Aven, and evokes the work of painter Paul Gauguin in Brittany. Another books takes place in Guerande evokes the production of the Breton salt speciality „Fleur de sel”.

My opinion about the books

The books are not thrillers but well written traditional mystery novels. This is the kind of books which you read very fast because you just want to know who was the murderer. But you can also just enjoy the beauty of Brittany. And there are many likable characters, such as Nolwenn, the friendly and terribly efficient secretary of Dupin, or Riwal, one of Dupin’s inspector. In spite of his grumpiness is Dupin also a very likable character. I love when he takes a lunch break. He is someone who definitely enjoys his food.
Actually, one of the limits of the books is that the Breton cultural exception is sometimes a little exaggerated. For instance, the Breton language is far from being as widespread as you would think reading the books. Breton first names are indeed popular in Brittany, but reading the books, you have the feeling that everyone there has a Breton first name. This is not the case. Actually, there is a strong generational aspect.
At the time of my grandparents, Breton first names were not accepted by the French state. Therefore, you have people today who have administratively a French first name but who are called by their Breton first name by family and friends. Brittany had a cultural revival between the sixties and the end of the eighties. Breton first names were now allowed and popular. Breton music became cool and Breton singers modernized the traditional Breton songs and made them popular again. After that however, Breton first names became slightly less popular.
I can see it in my family. My Breton father and his siblings all have classical French first names. My cousins, my sister and I all have Breton first names. Amongst our children however, only my daughter has a Breton first name.
Breton first names could become more popular again though. In 2012, the French singer Nolwenn Leroy, who was until then famous for winning a television singing competition, released an album with traditional Breton songs and sold more than one million of copies. Since then, Breton music has benefited from a better coverage from the media again.
If you want to hear some songs in Breton, you can listen to some songs by the new rising stars of Breton music, Nolwenn Leroy, Gwennyn or Nolwenn Korbell for instance. Or just listen to Alan Stivell, the father of modern Breton music.


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