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Friday, 2 June 2017

‘Don’t Let Go’ by Michel Bussi

Published by Weidenfield and Nicholson,
27 April 2017. 
ISBN 978 1 474 60179 5

Martial and Liane Bellion and their six-year-old daughter Sopha are holidaying on Reunion, a  small island that is situated in the Indian Ocean about a hundred and seventy kilometers from Mauritius.  The Bellions had appeared to be the perfect, golden couple until Liane retires to their hotel room and vanishes, leaving only blood stained carpets and bedding behind her.

The hotel staff try to tell Martial that his wife has run off with a lover - all Liane’s clothes have gone too - but Martial insists on sending for the police. When they eventually arrive, a cleaning lady informs them that she saw Martial wheeling a laundry trolley that could have carried Liane’s body out of the couple’s room. Other staff corroborate her story. At first Martial denies this, but he changes his account completely when he goes to the police station the next day. Why had he lied? Is he deliberately trying to hide the real reason behind Liane’s disappearance? And what is that anyway?

In the meantime Rodin, the island’s contemplative philosopher is killed with a knife that belongs to Martial. The knife has Liane’s and Rodin’s blood on it, together with Martial’s fingerprints.

Once Martial realizes that he is about to be charged with two murders, he decides to flee with Sopha. When they approach their hire car Martial finds a message written in the dust on his window screen.  It instructs him to be at a meeting point at four o’clock the next day, and to bring his daughter with him. Hoping to find his wife alive Martial and Sopha set out on a perilous journey whilst every available policeman on the island, including marksmen in a dozen helicopters, try to capture them. During this journey we learn that Martial is no stranger to the island – in fact he had previously lived there for nine years, during which time he had been married and divorced and had a son who had drowned.

Captain Aja Purvi manages the police investigation. Many officers assist her, but her main support is Christos Konstantinov an exceedingly laid-back colleague who much prefers probing his mistress, Imelda, than the mysteries he is supposed to be solving. Fortunately for Christos, besides being a wonderful mother and mistress, Imelda has an excellent memory and a very logical mind. She enjoys helping him sort out the inconsistencies in various conundrums he is struggling with, though she would have done better to curb her enthusiasm this time.

Don’t Let Go is like a magical mystery tour in which you know you are constantly being led astray, but have little idea why.  You have the feeling that the whole thing is being staged, but again you don’t know why.  Even if Michel Bussi takes liberties with us, which he does, you simply have no option but to finish this superb book. And, as a bonus, on the way you will learn much about the island and its inhabitants.  
Reviewer Angela Crowther

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.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

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