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Saturday 26 September 2015

The First Man by Xavier-Marie Bonnot

Translated from the French by Justin Phipps
Published by Maclehose Press,
21 July 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-85705-394-7

This is a truly fascinating book, dealing as it lavishly does with the vestiges of primitive man, underwater caves, prehistoric wall paintings and paleolithic rituals.  The plot centres round a pair of insane  homicidal twins who were apprehended and locked up nine years earlier: now one of them, Thomas Autran, has somehow escaped and is setting out to restore his vision of a purer cleaner period, as lived in the very first ages of man in primitive times, thousands of years ago.  

But this is by no means an historical novel, though the author clearly knows his prehistory  and is eager to share it with the reader in a manner both lively and informative.  Set in present-day Marseilles, the tension builds as people are brutally murdered, clues in the form  of severed finger are left for the police to find and the detective forces close in on their  elusive quarry. 

The ending comes as a relief, at least to this reader, though, like an earthquake, it is followed  by a series of aftershocks.  Definitely recommended.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Xavier-Marie Bonnot  has a PhD in History and Sociology, and two Masters degrees in History and French Literature. He is the author of The First Fingerprint and The Beast of the Camargue.

Justin Phipps is a British translator who translates from French and Russian into English. After studying modern languages and social anthropology, he has worked in overseas development and more recently as a solicitor specialising in employment law.

Susan Moody was born and brought up in Oxford.  She has published over 30 crime and suspense novels, including the Penny Wanawake series and the Cassandra Swann bridge series.  She is a past Chairman of the British Crime Writers' Association, a member of the Detection Club, a past Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania and a past President of the International Association of Crime Writers.  She divides her time between south-west France and south-east Kent.   Nominated for the CWA short story award.  Nominated for the RNA's award. 

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