12 November 2013

Review: ALEX, Pierre Lemaitre

Read an extract at Amazon

My Take

ALEX came on to my reading list as a result of winning the CWA International Dagger award this year, but also because of some excellent reviews that I have read.

Many reviewers have commented on the difficulty of writing a review that does not reveal too much about the novel. That is certainly indicative of the complexity of the novel's structure which is a brachial one. The resolution of the first part of the story, the kidnapping of Alex Prevost, leads seamlessly into the second which is why she was kidnapped, and then comes the story behind that.

But that is not all there is to this novel: Commandant Camille Verhoeven is returning to this kind of investigation a considerable time after his pregnant wife was kidnapped and died as a result. So in a sense Verhoeven is facing his demons, and not even he is sure he should be taking on this case. While following this theme we explore the relationships between the members of his investigative team.

I think what makes this a great read is that it explores psychological issues and in the end questions whether justice has been done.

My rating: 5.0
Other reviews to check
  • The Guardian
    The winner of countless French crime-writing prizes, Lemaitre is far too canny to join the ranks of thriller authors who merely revel in disturbing details and gory crimes. Where another novel would have finished, Alex is just beginning, and the book moves from read-as-fast-as-you-can horror to an intricately plotted race to a dark truth.
  • The Independent
    How easy is it to reinvigorate a shop-worn formula? One way is to shoot each familiar effect full of adrenalin. The other is to inject subtly innovative elements into the detail, subverting the clich├ęs. Alex by Pierre Lemaitre is a book that has it both ways, and succeeds in having its cake and eating it.
  • The Game's Afoot 
  • EuroCrime 

Author website 
Pierre Lamaitre has won a number of crime fiction awards since 2006, and ALEX is his first novel to be translated into English.

In ALEX, I create a setting in Paris to give a colour and atmosphere to the story, but I try to develop themes that I believe are universal : revenge, family neuroses, violence against women, and so on.


skiourophile said...

I found it such a fresh take on the crime novel with its flipping of perspective in each section. I have a pretty good stomach for gruesomeness, but I suspect it would push some readers limits. I never thought it unnecessary though.

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Thanks for the fine review as ever. Still haven't honestly decided to read this (although I'm very glad you enjoyed it). The violence in might be more than I want to deal with. Still, it does sounds like a compelling story.


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