I was thrilled to see Pierre Lemaitre had written another standalone novel having vowed to read all of his back catalogue after being wowed by Blood Wedding, needless to say, that hasn’t come to fruition… yet, although all his books are on the wishlist after being even more wowed by Three Days and a Life.
The feel of this book is very different to Blood Wedding, for starters the main protagonist is a child, just twelve years old, and we go back to 1999 to discover the events that led up to the day Antoine accidentally kills his six-year-old neighbour, Rémi. A shocking event, in itself, made no less so by the brutal description of Rémi ’s pet dog which precedes the cold days just before Christmas. The scene is set beautifully in the small town of Beauval in France where Antoine lives with his mother. His father decamped to Germany and consequently he has a distant relationship with him. The crux of the story is that Antoine hides Rémi’s body and returns home to his loving mother and hides as much as possible from reality. He has a child’s view of the world, realistically depicted, and alternately buries his head in the sand and suffers the awful anxiety about his crime being discovered.
Pierre Lemaitre absolutely nails the small town view of the wider world. The people of Beauval collectively hope that Rémi was taken by someone out-of-town, it being far too awful to think that the act was one of their own. Although the pace is slower than some crime thrillers, the tension felt is built very quickly to fever-pitch with this reader see-sawing in hoping that poor Rémi’s mother would find out the truth about what happened and equally hoping that Antoine’s mother would be spared the self-same truth, this emotional push and pull is very hard to pull off, particularly when we have a child who is not displaying much in the way of guilt, although his the fear of discovery is acute.
After following the inhabitants of Beauval through the days following the death of Rémi we next meet Antoine twelve years later and see how the man views that day in hindsight. An interesting concept and one that again the author nailed. Where some of Antoine’s emotions and actions mirrored those he had aged just twelve, the author hadn’t just given the same voice and adult body we see something more of Antoine, not all of it particularly nice. In fact, I felt less sympathetic to him in this part than I had the younger version.
Three Days and a Life ends with a twist that has played on a loop inside my mind since I finished the book. I’m not one to usually draw on this aspect of a book in my review but I have this time because the twist doesn’t change anything read before but adds a whole other layer that made me want to pick the book straight up and start at the beginning again.
If you fancy some French Noir I offer up a fulsome recommendation for Three Days and a Life. Even more so because this book has been exceptionally well translated by Frank Wynne, so much so that I forgot at times that this wasn’t originally written in English allowing the nuance of the tale coming across as expertly as I’m sure it was in its native language.
I’d like to thank the publishers Quercus who allowed me to read Three Days and a Life which was published on 7 November 2017. This review is my unbiased thanks to them, Pierre Lemaitre for the fantastic storytelling and Frank Wynne who brilliantly translated this book into English.
First Published UK: 13 July 2017
Publisher: MacLehose Press
No of Pages: 256
Genre: Crime Fiction Amazon UK Amazon US
I have just started reading Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre which was published in July of this year. This is one of my outstanding NetGalley reads from back in the summer when life went awry.
Antoine is twelve years old. His parents are divorced and he lives with his mother in Beauval, a small, backwater town surrounded by forests, where everyone knows everyone’s business, and nothing much ever happens. But in the last days of 1999, a series of events unfolds, culminating in the shocking vanishing without trace of a young child. The adults of the town are at a loss to explain the disappearance, but for Antoine, it all begins with the violent death of his neighbour’s dog. From that one brutal act, his fate and the fate of his neighbour’s six year old son are bound forever.
In the years following Rémi’s disappearance, Antoine wrestles with the role his actions played. As a seemingly inescapable net begins to tighten, breaking free from the suffocating environs of Beauval becomes a gnawing obsession. But how far does he have to run, and how long will it take before his past catches up with him again? Amazon
My previous read was also a NetGalley outstanding read, The Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate which has been republished as one of The British Library Classics, having first been published in 1940.
A woman is on trial for her life, accused of murder. The twelve members of the jury each carry their own secret burden of guilt and prejudice which could affect the outcome. In this extraordinary crime novel, we follow the trial through the eyes of the jurors as they hear the evidence and try to reach a unanimous verdict. Will they find the defendant guilty, or not guilty? And will the jurors’ decision be the correct one? Since its first publication in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has been widely hailed as a classic of British crime writing. This edition offers a new generation of readers the chance to find out why so many leading commentators have admired the novel for so long. Amazon
Next up is one of my own books, I am going away so need something reliable for the journey and I’ve read wonderful reviews of Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite which has recently been treated to a brand new cover.
ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE LAURA HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS HER.
After a devastating car crash wipes out her family, Laura struggles to get her life together. Grieving, she becomes forgetful. She doesn’t remember how money got into her purse, or buying that pint of milk…
Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He cooks meals. He does the housework. He looks after Laura’s every need. He knows everything about her.
But Laura has never met Adam. And she knows nothing about him.
What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? How did he become warped from a sensitive boy who adored the fairy tales his gran read to him? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends? Amazon
What do you think? Any of these take your fancy? Please do leave your thoughts in the comments box below.
Well the last time I posted a weekly wrap up was 11 June 2017 and I want to thank all of you for bearing with you through my erratic posting. The brief story is that I went on holiday to Kos where I planned a funeral for Mum, we returned to Jersey following the funeral in the UK. Meanwhile my partner’s father was admitted to hospital in Spain where he lives and subsequently intensive care so I ended up making an unscheduled dash there; happily he is very slowly recovering and I am now home again.
My sunflower went to stay with my daughter & son-in-law in their new home, she moved out of our home the weekend before we departed for Kos and once more I have an empty nest! What we hadn’t considered that it would grow so much that we couldn’t get it in the car to bring it home so I now have visiting rights. The new home has a new addition to the family, Bertie the rescue cat who can be seen here with my fabulous sunflower!
This Week on the Blog
Wednesday featured an author post by Chris Curran entitled Ideas and Where They Come From. Chris Curran’s latest book Her Deadly Secret was published on 21 July 2017.
As you can imagine my reading over the last six weeks or so has been somewhat erratic but I but I have read a fair few books so the week ended with a run of three reviews from my backlog…
I was reading Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane by Paul Thomas Murphy a non-fiction book about the historical true crime committed against Jane Coulson in 1871 in Greenwich, London. The author’s expert research uncovers not only the details of the crime but that of the subsequent trial including contemporary news reports. With a conclusion that you may or may not agree with this book paints a vivid picture of the life and times of victim and perpetrator.
You can read my full review here or by clicking on the book cover
In April 1871, a constable walking a beat near Greenwich found a girl dying in the mud – her face cruelly slashed and her brains protruding from her skull.
The girl was Maria Jane Clouson, a maid for the respectable Pook family, and who was pregnant at the time of her death. When the blood-spattered clothes of the 20-year-old Edmund Pook, alleged father of the dead girl’s unborn child, were discovered, the matter seemed open and shut. Yet there followed a remarkable legal odyssey full of unexpected twists as the police struggled to build a case.
Paul Thomas Murphy recreated the drama of an extraordinary murder case and conclusively identifies the killer’s true identity. Amazon
Stacking the Shelves
So despite not being at home very much at all some books have still managed to find there way into my house – I am sharing a small selection here!
From NetGalley I was lucky enough to be approved for Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict which will be published in January 2018.
In the industrial 1860s at the dawn of the Carnegie empire, Irish immigrant Clara Kelly finds herself in desperate circumstances. Looking for a way out, she seeks employment as a lady’s maid in the home of the prominent businessman Andrew Carnegie. Soon, the bond between Clara and her employer deepens into love. But when Clara goes missing, Carnegie’s search for her unearths secrets and revelations that lay the foundation for his lasting legacy.
With capturing insight and sunning heart, Carnegie’s Maid tells the story of one lost woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world’s first true philanthropist. NetGalley
I also was delighted with my copy of Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre after being blown away by Blood Wedding which I read last year. Three Days and a Life was published on 13 July 2017.
In 1999, in the small provincial town of Beauval, France, twelve-year-old Antoine Courtin accidentally kills a young neighbour boy in the woods near his home. Panicked, he conceals the body and to his relief–and ongoing shame–he is never suspected of any connection to the child’s disappearance.
But the boy’s death continues to haunt him, shaping his life in unseen ways. More than a decade later, Antoine is living in Paris, now a young doctor with a fiancée and a promising future. On a rare trip home to the town he hates and fears, Antoine thoughtlessly sleeps with a beautiful young woman from his past. She shows up pregnant at his doorstep in Paris a few months later, insisting that they marry, but Antoine refuses.
Meanwhile, the newly discovered body of Antoine’s childhood victim means that the case has been reopened, and all of his old fears rush back. Then the young woman’s father threatens Antoine with a paternity test–which would almost certainly match the DNA found on the dead child’s body. Will Antoine finally be forced to confront his crime? And what is he prepared to do to keep his secrets buried in the past? NetGalley
I received a copy of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood earlier this month for my birthday – the present giver cleverly knowing that I haven’t ever got around to reading this book since publication in 2009. As this is going to be a Netflix series soon I can now avoid the shame of confessing I haven’t read it every time someone asks!
Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor.’ Grace Marks. Female fiend? Femme fatale? Or weak and unwilling victim? Around the true story of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s, Margaret Atwood has created an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery. Amazon
I was thrilled to receive a copy of the winner of Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller launched by Bonnier Zaffre – Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear was published on 29 June 2017.
WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW
In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.
WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW
In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone? Amazon
And most recently I received a copy of Good Friday by Lynda La Plante which is the third book in the Tennison series, the first having recently shown on TV under the name Prime Suspect which I thoroughly enjoyed. Good Friday will be published on 24 August 2017.
During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused – some were not.
Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can’t identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation.
‘Good Friday’ is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin’s Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It’s the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London’s entire detective force? Amazon
Since my last post I’ve read loads of books and it would appear gained even more!! The spreadsheet is out of control but my best guess at the current figures is:
Physical Books – 103
Kindle Books – 59
NetGalley Books – 15 The current total is therefore177
At the moment I am reading The Silent Hours by Cesca Major, an epic tale set in wartime France. I’m loving this historical novel and having a chance to be completely involved with the wonderful characters.
I’ve gone a bit off-piste this week as I’ve just finished My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal, a touching story and compassionate tale about a nine year old boy separated from his mother and baby brother. Set in the UK in the 1980s, this book also provided a healthy dollop of nostalgia.
A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And a family where you’d least expect to find one.
Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not. As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.
Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we manage to find our way home. NetGalley
Never fear though the dark side of life is never far from view, and next up I have Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre
A gripping standalone psychological thriller about marriage, manipulation and murder by the internationally bestselling author of Alex
Sophie is haunted by the things she can’t remember – and visions from the past she will never forget.
One morning, she wakes to find that the little boy in her care is dead. She has no memory of what happened. And whatever the truth, her side of the story is no match for the evidence piled against her.
Her only hiding place is in a new identity. A new life, with a man she has met online.
But Sophie is not the only one keeping secrets . . . NetGalley
What are you reading this week? Do share your links and thoughts in the comments box below.