Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Boundary – Andrée A. Michaud

Crime Fiction
3*s

Set on the border between the US and Canada there is no doubt at all that this literary crime fiction is incredibly atmospheric. Not only is it evocative of the time it was set, 1967 Boundary combines this with a real sense of place, a holiday town populated mainly by women and children during the summer months with the men returning from work at the weekend.
So an idyllic setting with a lake and woods and sounds of the sixties running through two friend’s lives as Zaza and Sissy wield there charms on all around them. Andrée watches from the side-lines knowing that she is far too young for the ‘almost’ young women who laugh and swear and flirt their way through life.

But behind the summery scenes are the undying stories of a man, damaged by life as a solitary Canadian trapper. Pierre Landry had lived in a cabin in the woods. His tragic end and the crimes attributed to him, including the infatuation with a local woman, clinging to the town, unwanted and yet all-pervasive and the children tell stories about the ghost of Pierre Landry.

Barbeques are lit and children called in for food, dolls played with, dens made and the fairground welcomes its guests as every other summer’s day and then, Zaza goes missing. The nearby police are called, the older more experienced officer, Michaud, is haunted by a young girl’s murder, while the younger, Cusack gets worn down by the ensuing investigation into Zaza’s disappearance.

We are told the story from a number of the characters viewpoints including Andrée’s, the police and members of Boundary’s town. These different viewpoints paint a vivid picture of a town marred by events and the change of atmosphere is all-encompassing.

The story starts very slowly and although it isn’t a particularly long book, it took me a long time to finish. In part this was down to the small font which I’m sad to say I struggled to read after a full day working looking at a computer screen and I really needed daylight to see well. This in turn didn’t help the lack of forward momentum early on in the book as I was able to read so little. This may sound odd, and perhaps not entirely fair, particularly to those of you who have younger eyes than mine, but it did seriously hamper my enjoyment of what was clearly a book with lots to offer. I was reading a proof copy though so I’m not sure if the finished article will make for easier reading, but this was a book where I would have preferred an eBook. After the investigation starts the pace picks up and the various strands of the plot begin to draw together to create a convincing, if sad, story. I felt the characters acted in a consistent manner and I felt an affinity for Andrée, and not in the usual way that I feel for child narrators, she wasn’t like me as a child but her feelings felt particularly authentic.

This felt like a grown-up version of crime fiction with plenty of layers and issues to ponder which in many ways lends itself to a more contemplative reading experience than most crime fiction.

I’d like to thank the publishers No Exit Press who allowed me to read a copy of Boundary ahead of publication on 23 March 2017. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 23 March 2017
Publisher: No Exit Press
No of Pages:  320
Genre: Crime Fiction – Literary
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

18 thoughts on “Boundary – Andrée A. Michaud

  1. It sounds like a really atmospheric story, Cleo. And the setting appeals to me. I know just what you mean about the font, actually. I think that ease of reading really does play a role in whether a person enjoys a novel or not; it’s not trivial. It’s something that, as a writer, I think about a lot.

  2. I do get what you mean about the small font. That is usually a struggle for me too. The slow pace also doesn’t sound so good but this does sound like an okay read.I like the setting and the fact that you mentioned that its atmospheric.

  3. Aarghh! Small font is becoming one of my major bugbears at the moment. My arms simply aren’t long enough! I fear the name Zaza would be enough to make me put this one quickly back on the shelf… though if I ever get another cat, I’ll bear it in mind… 😉

    1. I really debated on whether to call the font out I’ve always been short-sighted but definitely notice that my eyes are reluctant after nine hours of working on computer screens and contorting myself to get the angle of light on the page right didn’t make for enjoyable reading

      1. Yes, a great reading lamp has become essential for me, and I seriously think I’m going to have to get proper reading glasses… *sobs and slaps on wrinkle cream*

  4. Oh, the small font would be a non-starter for me, I’m afraid. I received a review book a few years ago that was like that, and struggling to read a page is not my idea of enjoyment.

    Too bad, too, as the book sounds good otherwise. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who has trouble with certain books based on the font. I much prefer reading on my kindle for the fact that I don’t have to wear my reading glasses and haul those as well as a book around with me when I want to read outside of the house. This does sound like an interesting type of crime fiction…I kind of like the idea of literary crime fiction:)

    1. I wondered whether or not to call the font out but it had such an impact on the reading experience that I had to. My poor eyes struggle after nine plus hours working on computer screens and I got quite frustrated trying to see what I was reading

  6. Interesting to read your thoughts Cleo. I was reading this but DNF’d it. A combination of the small print, writing style and my just not being able to engage with the characters or story sadly finished it for me.

  7. Your reaction to the physical reading experience ties in very well with an on line course I’m taking at the moment about reading in a digital age. Apparently there is a field of academic research which assesses whether our reaction to a book is different depending on the format in which we read. You just gave a resounding yes…

  8. I find small font more difficult too read too so you aren’t alone. And it is the night time reading of it that slows me down too because I use a lamp not a overhead light so it makes it more difficult for me. I do wonder sometimes though if I get lazy with my reading because I am so used to ones that get straight into the action?

  9. I’m not even 30 and my eyesight is terrible, I doubt I could have read that review copy! That’s why I always check the font in the books I get and I am so happy to rely on the Kindle for times when my eyes are too tired and need help.
    I love atmospheric settings, I feel the stories creep up into your skin more easily when the author transports you to such places.

  10. I read this as an eBook, so the font wasn’t an issue, but I know exactly what you mean. I enjoyed this more as a coming of age story and a study of an unusual, bilingual community, as the pace was much slower and more deliberate than in normal crime fiction. It won the main prize at the Quais du Polar this year in Lyon, so I was surprised to see it translated so quickly.

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