Fifty years ago next weekend a Hillman saloon pulled off the N96 near the village of Lurs, about 75 miles from Aix. It was a stifling Provençal afternoon and the car's occupants, the distinguished British scientist Sir Jack Drummond, his wife Ann, and their 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth, decided to camp out for the night by the banks of the river Durance.
Within hours they became the centre of one of France's most troubling criminal puzzles, variously shot and clubbed to death. The tragic demise of the Drummonds is a murder mystery that has fired the public imagination for half a century.
It was not just the victims' renown and the consequent fuss across the Channel: Sir Jack, a 61-year-old former professor of biochemistry at London University, had been knighted for his exceptional work in nutrition during the second world war and was a senior researcher at the Boots laboratory in Nottingham.
Nor was it the unlikely and altogether too handy perpetrator fingered by the police and convicted 18 months later: Gaston Dominici, a 75-year-old peasant farmer whose smallholding was the nearest property to the scene of the crime, was a pillar of the local community.
No, it was the many key questions that remained unanswered. What was Dominici's motive? Where did the murder weapon, a battered US army Rock-Ola carbine, come from? What of the unidentified men seen on the road? And was Sir Jack, as Fleet Street soon began claiming, rather more than just an eminent scientist?This case has obvious similarities with the murders of Saad al-Hilli and his family in France earlier this week. (I had a journalist on the phone today hoping to be put in touch with the psychologist who has been interviewing the little girl found in the car. Don't you just love the tabloid press?)
The murder of the Drummonds was the subject of a BBC East Midlands documentary last year - you will find a video of it at the bottom of that page.
The blogger would like to thank his Mum for telling him about this case.