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Friday 23 August 2013

‘Alex’ by Pierre Lemaitre

Published by Quercus,
14 February 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-85705-187-5

Wow! And wow again! This is an absolutely gripping thriller-cum-crime-novel, one of the darkest and most grisly books I have ever read.  A girl is brutally kidnapped on a late-night Paris street, and driven  away to be stripped by her abductor and locked  into a wooden cage he has built, too small for her to stretch or sit or lie.  There are rats.  It's totally horrific.
Meanwhile, there has been a series of gruesome murders involving sulphuric acid, which is occupying the Paris police at the same time as they try to discover where the kidnap victim has been taken.  The book becomes a straightforward police procedurl  as  they to uncover the two quite separate crimes.  Of the two main policemen, one has private means and dresses like a GQ model, the other is a dwarf.  Despite this, the cops are all entirely realistic, which makes it all the more compelling to read. 
As the story develops, the twists and turns grow ever more jaw-dropping, though still entirely believable.  The dark and hideous denouement comes as a complete surprise. Totally unforgettable.

A mention should be made of Frank Wynne, the translator.  At no point does this read like a work-in-translation, none of that slight distancing which books originally written in a foreign language so often have.  Wynne deserves a prize … along with Monsieur Lemaitre.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Pierre Lemaitre was born in Paris in 1956. He worked for many years as a teacher of literature and now devotes his time to writing novels and screenplays.

Susan Moody was born in Oxford is the principal nom de plume  of Susan Elizabeth Donaldson, née Horwood, a British novelist best known for her suspense novels. She is a former Chairman of the Crime Writer's Association, served as World President of the International Association of Crime Writers, and was elected to the prestigious Detection Club. Susan Moody has given numerous courses on writing crime fiction and continues to teach creative writing in England, France, Australia, the USA and Denmark.  In addition to her many stand alone books, Susan has written two series, on featuring PI Penny Wanawake (seven books) and a series of six books featuring bridge player Cassie Swan.

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