Charles Exbrayat

I am an avid reader and as well as reading classic literature, I am a big fan of detective novels and thrillers. One of my favourite French authors of this type of books is Exbrayat. He was born in 1906 and died in 1989. During his lifetime, he published over 100 books. They are easy to read, entertaining and often full of humour. I have read many of his books and own about twenty.

My favourite of his book series features the hopeless, hapless spinster Imogène McCarthery.   Imogène is a patriotic 50-year-old red haired Scottish woman, who refuses to recognise Queen Elizabeth as her sovereign. She comes from the small village of Callander, in the Scottish Highlands, and is partial to a glass (or more) of whisky. She works as a secretary – and sometimes secret agent – for the British Intelligence and is a keen amateur detective. She is strong, behaves like a man, regularly gets into bar fights and often drags the equally hopeless and hapless sergeant McClostaugh from the Callender police into the mayhem.

One of the reasons I am particularly fond of Imogène is that my family jokingly nicknamed me Imogène due to my ‘tomboyness’, my propensity to like a good drink, my physical strength and my interest in the art of fighting – I am a brown belt in Wu Shu Kwan. I don’t mind the comparison. I find it quite funny and fitting. And after all, she always ends up solving crime even if by inadvertence!

In the 90s, the book series were turned into a TV series in France. To appeal more to the French public, the series was set in Bretagne in the village of Plouguirec. Imogene McCarthery was renamed Imogène Ledantec – played by Dominique Lavanant, sergeant McClostaugh was renamed adjudant-chef Trouillet – played by Jean Benguigui, and instead of drinking whisky, Imogène drank Chouchen. You can see an episode here.

There was also a film adaptation Imogene McCarthery released in 2010, but I would not recommend it as it was extremely disappointing and does not do justice to the original book series. It is much better to read the books or watch the French TV series.

I am not sure if any of Exbrayat’s books were ever translated into English or any other languages, but if you are intermediate level French, I recommend that you give it a try.

Well, this is it from me Imogène.

A bientôt.

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