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Friday, 7 April 2017

‘Crush’ by Frédéric Dard

Translated by Daniel Seton
Published by Pushkin Vertigo,
6 October 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-78227-198-7

Louise is seventeen, and living in dreary fifties Leopoldville. The only interesting thing in her life is the dream mansion of Jess and Thelma Rooland, a wealthy American couple. When she persuades them to take her on as their maid, she discovers that there are secrets under the golden facade.

This atmospheric thriller takes us into French provincial life with several vividly-drawn characters: Louise herself, naive, lacking self-awareness and too ready to take the world at face-value; her suspicious, mercenary mother, and her dull step-father. Their house is drab and boring, so it’s no wonder Louise spins fantasies about the pretty house with the swing in the garden, and the huge car parked outside. Jess and Thelma, the American couple, are elegant, loving towards each other, rich – everything she ever wanted. Her gradual disillusionment with Thelma and growing love for Jess are convincingly drawn. Once the characters have sucked you into the story, the action begins with a party, and then, in the last quarter of the novel (short enough almost to be a long novella), everything takes a darker turn, and Louise is forced to face her illusions. The ending twists several times, with a shocking inevitability.

An elegantly-written slow-burn novel which reads like a Hitchcock film. Atmospheric and unusual – a gripping read.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Frédéric Dard (1921-2000) was one of the best known and loved French crime writers of the twentieth century. Enormously prolific, he wrote hundreds of thrillers, suspense stories, plays and screenplays throughout his long and illustrious career. Bird in a Cage, The Wicked Go To Hell and The Executioner Weeps (for which he won the 1957 Grand prix de littérature policière) are also available from Pushkin Vertigo.
Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

A review of her recent book Ghosts of the Vikings can be read here.

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