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Wednesday 10 August 2016

‘Black Water Lilies’ by Michel Bussi

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
30 June 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-474-60174-0 (HB).
978-1-474-60175-7 (TPB).

There were three women living in a village. 
One was an egotist, the second was mean, and third was a liar.

These are more or less the opening words, which confirm the spirit of Bussi's marvellous novel Black Water Lilies.  They pulled me straight in into the book and I couldn't stop reading it until I'd finished it.

If someone was described to me as a monetist, I would assume the person referred to was some kind of financial expert. But the village of the opening sentence is Giverny, and as every schoolboy knows, Giverny is where Monet lived and built a garden for the last thirty years of his life, and obsessively painted his Water Lilies series.  Black Water Lilies begins with the murder of a local art-lover and womanizer, found dead with his head bashed in and his face in the water of a local stream.  The death echoes the earlier murder of a young boy, years before, and all three women are in some way connected with that death.  But how?  This intricate story is full of questions, echoes, riddles and conundrums.

If I hadn't already been a Monetist, I would certainly have become one after reading Bussi's loving reincarnation of the village and the people who lived there, then and now.  In a series of extraordinary twists and developments, the author builds up layers of conjectures and mysteries  which grab the reader and hold tight until the very end, with its stunning 'reveal'. 

A beautiful and compelling novel of art and murder, seen through a veil of miscomprehensions thrown over the reader by the adept puppeteer who tells the story.  I urge you not to miss it.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Michel Bussi  was born 29 April 1965 in Louviers France. He is a French writer of detective novels, and a political analyst and Professor of Geography at the University of Rouen, where he leads a Public Scientific and Technical Research Establishment. After the Crash was his first book to be published in the UK. Black Water Lilies was published in June 2016.

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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