FICTION

Irène

MacLehose: Quercus. Dec. 2014. 464p. tr. from French by Frank Wynne. ISBN 9781623658007. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781623658014. F
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OrangeReviewStarFrench literary sensation Lemaitre earned comparisons to Stieg Larsson (and a 2013 CWA International Dagger Award) with Alex, a gruesome and twisty mashup of police procedural, thriller, and psychological horror. Its newly translated predecessor might be even better. (Though Alex is Lemaitre's first book translated into English, Irène originally introduced his protagonist, diminutive investigator Camille Verhoeven of the brigade criminelle of Paris.) The hook is irresistible: Verhoeven's on the trail of a serial killer who stages grisly murder scenes that pay homage to famous books. Dubbed "The Novelist," the killer decapitates prostitutes à la American Psycho, butchers a woman in the style of The Black Dahlia, and dumps a body along a river in echoes of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's Roseanna. But Lemaitre's own crime story is hardly predictable, as he pushes the pulse-quickening plot toward an ingenious—and shocking—finale.
VERDICT Know any Euronoir readers who can stomach ultraviolence? This is the book for them. Just be aware that the "Camille Verhoeven" trilogy works best in chronological order, as some of the dark surprises here are spoiled by its previously released sequel.

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