For the giveaway, skip to the widget below. Enter to win a paperback copy of CROSSING THE LINE (US residents only) or an ebook copy (international). And don’t miss Ms. Molay’s guest post, and my review of the book, the latest translated in the Nico Sirsky novels, known as the Paris Homicide Series, from Le French Book.
About CROSSING THE LINE
It’s Christmas in Paris and Chief of Police Nico Sirsky has an uneasy feeling that something is very wrong with the case he’s investigating. He and his team of crack homicide detectives follow the clues from an apparent suicide, to an apparent accident, to an all-out murder as an intricate machination starts breaking down. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil?
The Funny Thing About Mysteries
Award-winning novelist Frédérique Molay brings us another mystery in her Paris Homicide series—Crossing the Line, which hits bookstores on September 23. Chief of Police Nico Sirsky returns to work after recovering from a gunshot wound. He’s in love and raring to go. His first day back has him overseeing a jewel heist sting and taking on an odd investigation. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil? Here she talks about the mystery genre.
The funny think about mysteries is that although some misguided souls still sometimes consider the genre to be marginal as far as “literature” goes, mystery novels very actively feed all the other art forms from movies, television, graphic novels and plays to painting and so much more. They touch us in many way, have a long history and a bright future.
Traditionally, the genre’s paternity is attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, with his short stories written in 1841, Murders in the Rue Morgue. Some people, particularly the French, like to remind readers that Honoré de Balzac wrote Murky Business the same year. Bets are still open on Balzac vs. Poe, and academics still quarrel over it. What counts though is that the genre has been booming since the nineteenth century and today, authors around the world are inventing their own heroes based on their country’s history, social realities, culture and own literary genius.
Like the genre, heroes in detective fiction have evolved as well, mostly because the world around them has changed. There are more heroines. Macho, die-hard heroes are a thing of the past. Femmes fatales and docile wives are also long gone, and female characters are independent and determined.
Of course, crime novels have changed because crime too has changed. The transformation of heroes is on par with that of the villains. A new kind of criminal has arisen—they are as unpredictable and hard to grasp as the world they reflect. These psycho-killers choose their victims randomly, following their urges. Add to that the wide-spread growth of organized crime to the most unsuspecting places and benefiting from considerable protection and immunity, and there is a lot of inspiration. I could go on. Clearly, the mystery genre has a bright future ahead of it.
To take a line from Frédérique Molay’s post above, a new kind of criminal has arisen, unpredictable and hard to grasp. The villain in her first book fit this description, as does the one in this novel. But I don’t want to say too much about the villain, in fear of giving something away, so I will leave them be, and talk more about the book itself.
It begins with an anatomy lab and a class of dental students, learning how to do surgery upon cadavers (just the heads). Grotesque, but intriguing, becoming more so when a student finds a head with a very poorly done filling, and brings it to the attention of the prof and the anatomy lab. A closer examination reveals a piece of plastic embedded in the tooth; it reads ‘I was murdered.’ Now, if that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what would.
Having been in an anatomy lab, and smelled that smell, the scene was quite vivid for me (though I had been there for an anatomical drawing class, and did not draw heads), and it reminded me partly of the anatomy lesson scenes in Lars von Trier’s ‘Riget’. Crinkling my nose remembering that smell, I read on, and found that I couldn’t put the book down.
The connections between characters and to the finale were artfully done, subtle enough that it kept me guessing. I love mystery novels where it isn’t obvious who the villain is, or how/why they’ve done what they’ve done. Slowly the pieces came together as Sirsky and his team investigated, and though I did guess a couple of chapters ahead of the big reveal, I was still quite satisfied.
I’m looking forward to the next in the series, and hope that Le French Book will continue to put out these fantastic translations.
Crossing The Line
[police procedural / thriller]
(translated by Anne TRAGER)
Release date: September 23, 2014
at Le French Book
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