I really enjoyed Graeme McRae Burnett’s His Bloody Project, a novel I found in my habit of picking up a few of the Booker-nominated novels each year. So I was pretty interested in his new one – despite the very different nature of the stories.
The Accident on the A35 was one of those books that you look forward to curling up with of an evening.
This is an odd little story as it is not quite a murder mystery – but I suppose it is a crime.
Bertrand Barthelme is killed in an accident on the A35 outside a fairly provincial French town, leaving behind a cool but beautiful younger wife and a son on the cusp on manhood – and all that this entails.
And while this is an open and shut case with no sense of foul play for local Detective Gorski, the beauty of the young wife compels him to investigate the circumstances – after all, Barthelme was not where he promised he would be that night.
So begins a series of misadventures and possibilities for the inspector as he dares to ask questions about some of the most powerful men in town – but also too for Raymond the rebellious son, who explores the implications of paperwork in his father’s study, which leads him to a beautiful and intriguing young girl.
This novel ends abruptly although not really unsatisfactorily. We find out all there is to know. But there is also that tiny part of regret that we couldn’t see more. But some stories, can only be told by the deceased.
I’ve seen this described as ‘unflashy but highly accomplished’ by reviewers and I would have to agree. This is subtle and more deeply involved in the complex emotions of the two focal characters (Gorski and Raymond) than on the mystery. But personally, that’s how I like it.
This is the kind of book you know is going to have legions of female fans – and no doubt will be made into a movie as well. It’s very much in the style of The Girl on the Train – an entertaining mystery, cleverly told and deep in fiction’s mainstream.
In two different narratives separated by a handful of years, two women move into an architectural experiment, a home so minimalist that it actually trains the tenant to change and let go of unnecessary thoughts, feelings and possessions. Each woman is running away from a tragedy, and the house seems like a safe haven – and the architect an irresistible bonus.
But nothing is quite as it seems and the reader becomes increasingly alarmed as the house takes on a slightly sinister role for both, and both engage in highly controlled relationships with its designer. But then both women learn the woman who lived there before them died in mysterious circumstances….
This will keep you guessing and entertained right towards the end. A good choice for holidays any teacher friends.
If you are looking for an engaging read – not too challenging – but something to keep you interested, please consider Greer Macallister’s The Magician’s Lie. I can’t remember where I heard about it, but bought it on Audible earlier in the year.
The premise – if not original – is certainly interesting. After a magic act, a dead body in found. When a young policeman encounters the female magician who is the subject, he locks her up straight away in his local police station, thinking the publicity for her capture will help him keep his job after a debilitating injury.
But how can you trust anything said by a person whose life is dedicated to trickery? When The Amazing Arden pleads her innocence, she is invited to tell her story. She takes the policeman right back to her childhood, explaining her early years and how she came to learn stage magic. Through this story are the threads of the murder to come. But should he trust her? And is she just buying time to make a grand escape, just like she does on stage?
There is certainly enough here to make you want to keep reading. Some interesting characters and scenarios. Not a bad read.