This is a crime thriller with a big difference, the reader doesn’t know what crime has been committed. All the reader knows is that when we meet Sean he is hiding his battered and blood-stained car in France one hot summer day. He leaves the car picks up his rucksack and walks into the unknown. Here is a man without a plan but it is apparent he is hiding and determined to stay hidden.
Told expertly and consistently in the first person this is a subtle story of a mystery man on the run. Sean ends up at a farm-house where things only take a turn for the worse. The claustrophobic feel intensifies as he appears to have been trapped on a farm inhabited by a Monsieur Arnaud, his two daughters, Mathilde and Gretchen and his grandson, little Michele. The only contact Sean has with the outside world is Georges the old man who looks after the sanglochons, a pig which has been bred with a boar.
The reader is treated to snapshots of Sean’s background from the interjections of life in London. A life that included Chloe an artist and joy. The contrast of these short excerpts to the claustrophobic atmosphere in the baking heat in France couldn’t be more dramatic. Be warned though, Beckett makes the reader wait a long time to connect the links between the past and the present.
Despite not knowing what Sean was running from I instantly felt sympathy for him, I wanted for the unpredictable Monsieur Arnaud to ignore him at the same time as trying to work out the cause of the complex tensions in the household one that was closed to everyone outside the family. It was clear that the Arnaud’s were hiding from something or someone too.
This understated book has an underlying thread of violence running through it which serves to build the tension before the inevitable catastrophe which changes everything, forever.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers Random House UK in return for this honest review. This book will be published on 30 January 2014.
I hadn’t read any of Simon Beckett’s previous books but I am going to be seeking them out now. This book shows that this is a man who knows how to wield his pen to maximum advantage. He gets my vote as I’d never heard of sanglochons before which is a French contraction of pig and boar, and the sanglochons have a part to play in the story so it wasn’t just a writer being clever! But better than that this book used one of my favourite words, doppelganger, in a sentence that sang to me “The Skylight is fogged with condensation. Rain sweeps against it with a noise like a drum roll. Our smudged reflections hang above us as we lay on the bed, misted doppelgangers trapped in glass.” Enough of a reason I think to read this book!