The Teacher in Villette by Ingrid Hedström

 A teacher is killed by a hit-and-run driver in the Belgian town Villette. Several witnesses claim that the car purposely hit her, so investigating judge Martine Poirot gets involved. The case turns out to have a historic connection and Martine suspects that the teacher was about to reveal an old secret that would have had a negative impact on several politicians in the town.

Martine’s husband, Thomas, works as a historian and he gets involved in an investigation of a medieval mass grave that is found in Villette. The novel also has ties to events in the country’s colonial past. In addition, we get to follow events in Rwanda during the Civil War, where Belgian soldiers were killed.

The Teacher in Villette is Ingrid Hedström’s first novel. She is a Swedish journalist based in Belgium, which explains her extensive knowledge about the country.

For present events to have a historic connection is a twist used frequently by crime writers, but few succeeds in doing it in such a brilliant way. I was hesitant when I started reading, but halfway through I could not put the book down.  A weak beginning, but a much stronger ending. Hang in there; it is well worth it!

Original title in Swedish: Lärarinnan i Villette

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