Today it's my stop on the Death in the Rainy Season blog tour with a guest piece by author Anna Jaquiery about weather patterns in her novels.
In my first crime novel The Lying Down Room, it’s very, very warm. The setting is Paris and the city is trapped in an oppressive heat wave. It’s August, which means many Parisians have fled the city. Only the tourists remain, trudging from one sight to the next with their city maps and water bottles. Commandant Serge Morel’s team is investigating the murder of an elderly woman, which is soon followed by another… the case is difficult and the heat doesn’t make the work any easier.
My second book, Death in the Rainy Season, takes place in Phnom Penh. Morel is on holiday in Cambodia when a Frenchman is found murdered in a hotel room. Morel’s boss tells him he has to cut his holiday short and become involved in the investigation; the Frenchman is a prominent politician’s nephew. This is a very different environment to the one in which Morel is used to working. For a start, it’s the middle of the monsoon season. The rain is relentless. As I was writing this book I felt I was there, getting drenched during a sudden downpour or hearing the ticking sound of water dripping from the trees. At times, the rains are oppressive; other times, they evoke a lush green landscape; romance and exoticism.
Whenever I begin a story, I need to be able to picture the place. Not just the name of a place, but also what it feels like: sights, sounds, smells. I can’t do this without the weather in mind. I am still in the early stages of my third novel, but I already know that it’s snowing in Paris, and that this is something of an event because it hasn’t snowed there in a long time. I already know that this is important. In any kind of novel, crime or otherwise, the weather isn’t accidental.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia; the rainy season. When a French man, Hugo Quercy, is found brutally murdered, Commandant Serge Morel finds his holiday drawn to an abrupt halt. Quercy - dynamic, well-connected - was the magnetic head of a humanitarian organisation which looked after the area's neglected youth.
Opening his investigation, the Parisian detective soon finds himself buried in one of his most challenging cases yet. Morel must navigate this complex and politically sensitive crime in a country with few forensic resources, and armed with little more than a series of perplexing questions: what was Quercy doing in a hotel room under a false name? What is the significance of his recent investigations into land grabs in the area? And who could have broken into his home the night of the murder?
Becoming increasingly drawn into Quercy's circle of family and friends - his adoring widow, his devoted friends and bereft colleagues - Commandant Morel will soon discover that in this lush land of great beauty and immense darkness, nothing is quite as it seems...