Nick Foster has written a very Interesting book here, Murder at Roaringwater?

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New book finally asks the right questions for Sophie Toscan du Plantier

 7th August 2021


So much has been written and said about Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s murder in West Cork at Christmas 1996 that it’s hard to believe there’s much left to uncover.Death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, Ian Bailey, Death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier looking at the camera© Provided by Extra.ie

Two recent documentaries on Sky and Netflix — Murder At The Cottage: The Search For Justice For Sophie and Sophie: A Murder In West Cork respectively — have delved deeper than ever into the mystery, but are still no closer to solving it.

I came away from both feeling that while they reopened the conversation, nothing new had been uncovered, I was no more enlightened.Death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier sitting in a chair talking on the phone: Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Pic: PA Wire© Provided by Extra.ie Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Pic: PA Wire

I had a very different feeling by the time I finished Murder at Roaringwater by Nick Foster. The English journalist appears in Jim Sheridan’s documentary — if you’ve seen it you’ll remember him as the man who Sheridan puts on the phone to explain to Ian Bailey what had happened in the courthouse in France where Bailey was on trial in absentia.

He takes an equally in-depth look back at the whole case but in the course of his investigation comes across two testimonies from witnesses that leave him — and the reader and, hopefully, gardaí — with two pertinent questions that badly need to be answered.

I don’t want to spoil the book by telling you what they are but what I will say is that as the relevance of the information dawns on Foster, it makes for an unputdownable race to a breathtaking finale.Ian Bailey sitting at a table with a cup of coffee: Ian Bailey. Pic: Tom Honan© Provided by Extra.ie Ian Bailey. Pic: Tom Honan

Foster’s research is unrivalled and his descriptions of the vast, desolate countryside in which Sophie was murdered are hauntingly beautiful. He has clearly built up a good rapport with the people of the area, who seem to trust him.

Like everyone who seems to encounter him, Foster is initially somewhat charmed and disarmed by Bailey — with the prime suspect even accompanying Foster on some of his investigations. But as he uncovers more and more evidence, Foster’s attitude changes — as does Bailey’s in return when he realises the conclusions Foster is coming to.

The ‘friendship’ they’ve nurtured leaves Foster with a deep sense of disquiet and Bailey’s overpowering presence means he has to play along with the ruse for far longer than he’s comfortable with. He knows that as soon as Bailey gets wind of his doubts then all contact will be lost, he won’t get access to him or his then-partner Jules Thomas again. It’s a fine line to tread.Ian Bailey wearing a suit and tie standing next to a woman: Jules Thomas and Ian Bailey. Pic: Collins Photos© Provided by Extra.ie Jules Thomas and Ian Bailey. Pic: Collins Photos

As with everyone who encounters this case, Marie Farrell’s role leaves Foster at a loss as to the role her ever-changing testimony actually plays — but if his gut feeling is right, it really doesn’t matter which version of her testimony you believe, it becomes irrelevant.

Foster has spent years building up his contacts with Sophie’s family and friends and I imagine they are very interested indeed in the questions he is asking.

Of course, they believe that they have their man already since Bailey was convicted and sentenced to 25 years, but until he is extradited they’re still a long way from closure. Foster’s inquiries are unlikely to lead to Ireland agreeing to send Bailey to France, but the answers could either give gardaí a more concrete case to work on or rule Bailey out altogether.Death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier smiling for the camera: Murder at Roaringwater is a fascinating read and, for me, the definitive account of this case. Pic: REX/Shutterstock© Provided by Extra.ie Murder at Roaringwater is a fascinating read and, for me, the definitive account of this case. Pic: REX/Shutterstock

Foster started looking at Sophie’s death as a tragic and interesting cold case — perhaps even a David v Goliath battle between an innocent man and a state out to get him but found himself consumed by the life and death of the beautiful French filmmaker and her son Pierre Louis Baudey’s battle for justice.

Murder at Roaringwater is a fascinating read and, for me, the definitive account of this case.

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