The Story Behind ‘The Charlemagne Connection’ by R.M. Cartmel

Charlemagne_cover_webThe Richebourg Affair, my first published book, arose out of my sitting in the outdoor bar in Nuits-Saint-Georges, le Café du Centre, a location which appears in all the books. I was munching on a plateful of snails, and washing them down with an extremely quaffable glass of red wine, when two girls wearing not very much (it was a very hot day) came and sat down directly in my eye line. I did not really know where to look, and I have no idea how to look straight ahead without focusing. At that moment, my mind asked me what Truchaud would do. Truchaud had appeared in my thoughts years before as a character I would write about if I ever wrote a[nother] book.

The second twist that happened at almost the same time was my buying a mixed case of Red Burgundy. One of the bottles in that case completely blew my socks off! It was truly wonderful, and I went back to the dealer and asked if they had any more. They did, and I bought the rest of their stock, some sixty bottles, at slightly less than twenty-five dollars a bottle. I still can’t believe that figure. The autumn of that year found me in Nuits-Saint-Georges at the winery finding out about that wine. It was the beginning of a very long and fruitful friendship. The bottom line was that the reason it cost that little, was that it was simply a village wine. My question was why wasn’t it at the very least a Premier Cru, [the second rank of Burgundy wines]? Back came the reply, because it wasn’t, and anyway why did I want it to be a Premier Cru, it would be the same wine, but it would cost me more?

The conversation moved away to other things, but that snippet of conversation remained, and I have continued to drink that wine from my stock on occasion, and it has remained an absolutely wonderful mouthful. I have also drunk, on occasions, wines that have cost ten times as much, and while they have also been good, they certainly haven’t been ten times better than my little bottles of Burgundy. From those two incidents the beginnings of a plot started to emerge, and that wave of creativity coincided with my reaching the end of my career as a doctor. So, at sixty, I decided to write my first novel, asking the question how you could tell whether the wine in the bottle was the same as the wine on the label. After all it is the name on the label that determines the price of the wine.

That was The Richebourg Affair. Its sequel, The Charlemagne Connection, looked at the effects of French inheritance law, also in the same setting with a lot of the same characters as Richebourg. Perhaps I was thinking about what would happen to me and mine when the reaper came a-calling, but following the research, Charlemagne pretty much wrote itself. There are back stories set in the second world war, just as in Richebourg there are bits from the 1968 counter-culture and references to the Baader-Meinhof group.

I have no idea who the girls were, but I say to them anonymously, thank you for the difficulty you put me through that afternoon. And the wine? It was a Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Les Evocelles’ 2003 made by Domaine de la Vougeraie.



Genre: Mystery

Author: Richard Michael Cartmel

Publisher: Crime Scene Books

The Charlemagne Connection, Cartmel’s latest mystery, is an exhilarating tale of villainy in the vineyards featuring the rumpled but shrewd Inspector Charlemagne Truchaud of the Paris police.

About The Charlemagne Connection:  Something sinister is afoot in the charming little Burgundy village of Nuits-Saint-Georges.  Inspector Truchaud will have an elaborate mystery to unravel when a young German tourist goes missing in Nuits-Saint-Georges.  What appears, at first, to be a straightforward case takes a dark turn when a decomposing body is found in the woods….

A captivating tale that transports readers to the vineyards of Burgundy, The Charlemagne Connectioncrackles with suspense. Smart, seamless, and sensational, The Charlemagne Connection blends a to-die for setting, a well-balanced, full-bodied plot, and irresistible characters.  Celebrated novelist R.M. Cartmel uncorks a wild, witty, and winning wine mystery in The Charlemagne Connection.



Born into a military family, R.M. Cartmel was educated at Sherborne School in the South West of England and at Oxford.  Cartmel served as a practicing doctor for over three and a half decades. As a novelist Cartmel combines two of his lifelong loves—writing and traveling throughout France’s exquisite Burgundy region.

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