Epineux-le-Rainsouin is a village where so little happens that washing a window is important enough to excite the local gossip. When Didier Blot, the village employee, disappears, rumours about his sexual excesses as well as his environmental activism begin to circulate. Ironic and with much humorous dialogue, Slanderous Tongue can be recommended to all who love a good mystery. But the book also underlines the destruction of rural France in the name of profit.
What the critics say about Death by Slanderous Tongue:
There seem to be two ways of writing about French life : cuddly reportage based on village life and local wines, less cuddly fiction based on village life and local cuisine. Your villagers never stop being cuddly and never stop eating and drinking. Now along comes Jill Culiner. No cuddles, very little food and what wines are consumed seem to curdle in the mouth. If you love France enough to recognise it has a seamy side, an underbelly – you’ll face this book with jaunty anticipation.
David Blake, French News
Clues for the narrator to process virtually cascade from Epineux-le-Rainsoun’s streets, gardens, ancient passageways, garishly refurbished houses, and the crones who peer out from their windows, shaking their heads in disgust. Culiner has invented a locale so rich in color and dramatic possibilities that it merits many a return visit.
Here, There & Everywhere: The Geography of Murder
by: Edward Morris, ForeWord Magazine
The characters are inventive; the writing is witty; the story is pristine and poignant. Slanderous Tongue is an interesting read, but it is Culiner’s trademark style that makes the story substantial and robust with detail. What unfolds is a murder-mystery encapsulated in a larger discussion on environmentalism and animal cruelty. Culiner pulls no punches in telling the details of what many real farming communities are bound in secret to protect; and discovering the truth of how we end up with milk, chicken, eggs, and meat in the grocery store can be just as terrifying as any mystery.
Slanderous Tongue is a thought-provoking examination of the old literary adage - man versus nature.
Kindah Mardam Bey, Lucid Forge
The reader gets a good sense of the protagonist’s growing exasperation with both the people of the town and her fickle lover. Her growing disillusionment with her role as a mistress is brilliantly written, as is the author’s argument that a small town serves simply as a microcosm of the larger world.
SLANDEROUS TONGUE depicts the changes wrought on local culture by society’s drive towards modernism. I highly recommend this book for discriminating readers of mystery fiction.
Mary V. Welk, Reviewing the Evidence
Jill Culiner has a literate, yet informal style, with a good ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for the idiosyncrasies of rural village life.
Not simply a mystery (though the author introduces several nicely-placed red herrings), Slanderous Tongue is an insight-ful study of the manners and mores of the inhabitants of a small town, with something to say on a variety of subjects. She examines the minutæ of village life, the thousand and one details that, taken collectively, define people’s relation to others and to the natural world around them. Focusing first on the physical changes in village life over decades, and their disruptive effects on social patterns, she turns her attention to intensive farming techniques and their impact on the environment, and concludes with a critique of our willful ignorance of the inhumane treatment of the animals that most of us rely on for food.
Although she is occasionally preachy, Culiner is not wrong; and although she has an unhurried approach to the telling of her tale, when she gets where she’s going the reader comes away both informed and entertained.
Jim Napier, The Sherbrooke Record
Jill Culiner has written a delightful novel packed with self-serving, quirky villagers fuelled by sexual peccadilloes, environmental activism and murder. The first-person style is catchy. You feel like you're leaning over the back fence involved in a time that transcends cultures and age -- gossiping about the folks next door, highlighted by tales of late-night visitors, sex and occasionally on how neighbours earn their money. The suspects and their motives seem to fit just about every neighbourhood gossip tale that readers are familiar with, and sorting through the maze of lies, exaggerations and extravagances makes for an amateur sleuth's paradise. It rather validates the rumour that people can die twice -- once by whatever physical malice the mind can create and the second time by gossip. The sleuthing is well-drawn and the conclusion makes for a delightful change of pace.
Don Graves, The Hamilton Spectator