As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Trapdoor, 10 October 2013.
Having recently read an article
bemoaning the lack of French novels that successfully make it through the
language barrier (and - incidentally - wondering about the plethora of English
language books that do succeed internationally) I was interested to read The Stone Boy, a translated French
Elsa Preau is a lonely
woman. A former headmistress, whose employment ended in unfortunate
circumstances, she is estranged from her husband, enduring a strained
relationship with her son and a practically non-existent one with his wife and
son. She spends her time observing the comings and goings in the neighbourhood.
Her interest is piqued when she notices a local family with three children,
only two of whom are enrolled in school. Imagining all kinds of abusive family
dynamics, she is determined to get to the bottom of the situation.
As the reader learns more
about Elsa's mental state, and history, the truth becomes ever more precarious
and her motives questionable. Distraught that no one - not her son, the police
or social services - will listen to her, Elsa takes matters into her own hands,
with devastating consequences.
A beautiful narrative,
and stylistically fascinating, the author utilises dialogue, monologue and
correspondence to move the denouement along. I had breezed through the first
third of the tale without even realising it. The extensive scene setting races
through several decades - from 1946 to 2009, when the mystery appears to the
reader for the first time.
Poignant, moving and
tragic in many ways, abuse and mental illness dominate the denouement and leave
a sad, empty space in the reader's heart at the conclusion.
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh
Loubierewas born 10 December 1966. She is the author of five
novels including The Stone Boy, for
which she won several awards, including the French Prix Lion Noir for crime
writing in 2011.
Joanna Leigh studied French and German at university. She works in
the aerospace industry and is a chartered marketer in the UK. She describes herself as a
voracious reader, enjoying genres as varied as crime thrillers, historical
fiction and autobiographies. Joanna lives in London. She is the daughter of crime thriller
writer Leigh Russell.