After reading Nordic fiction for three or more years, I recently took a liking for the French crime thrillers. I had just finished the Camille Verhooven series by Pierre LeMaitre. I was lazing around in Star Mark in Express Avenue mall when I chanced upon After the Crash by Michael Bussi. The title seemed very familiar to me. I remembered reading a review in some blog, which was generous with praise. My hand automatically picked a copy and went towards the counter.
I finished the book in one day. That should say a lot about the book.
The story revolves around a plane that crashes in Franco – Swiss border on December 1980. Out of 169 passengers only one three month baby girl survives the crash. The child becomes a media sensation immediately and termed as Miracle Child. Two families, The rich De Carville family and poor Vitral family both claim ownership of the baby. With the absence of technology and no photo evidence there is no way to identify who the baby really is.
With a blunder of act from De Carville’s and clever use of media by the Vitrals, the scales of justice tilt towards the Vitrals. De Carvilles employ a detective to know the truth about the death of their granddaughter. The detective follows every clue, employs everything in his reach and interviews anybody who was remotely attached to the case but hits a dead end. He plans to commit suicide on the baby’s eighteenth birthday. Just before committing the suicide the detective learns the truth and then he is promptly murdered before he could tell what he found to anyone. Things are not so good with Lylie as she is in love with her so called brother Marc Vitrol. The mystery of who killed the detective along with the mystery of the birth of miracle child the novel moves in a frantic pace.
Most of the novel is told in the form of the detective’s journal which he presents to Lylie on her birthday. What follows is a series of red herrings, fork turns and delightful development of characters. The novel was simply un-put-downable. We are introduced to wealthy but cocky De Carvilles and loving poor grandmother Mrs. Nicole Vitrol and to streets of Turkey to the snow filled Franco- Swiss borders with very minimal bloodshed. I was a bit disappointing with the ending. But till the last page, it was a complete page turner. I bet nobody would be able to guess the ending.
Apart from the thriller aspects, the emotional depth of the characters is also one of the things that make me like the book even more. There is a reason for everyone to do what they do. There is a reason behind every emotion the characters go through and most importantly, the reason is not true. The imagery of a dragonfly in the cover and the references which comes throughout the novel convey a lot of meanings as we progress in the novel.
After Irene, Alex and Camille of Commander Verhovan series, I was hooked by this French novel. It is told to be sold several copies. I guess the Indian audience will love it more. I for one is going to search and buy some other thrillers by French authors. If you enjoy a detective procedural as well as crime thriller, go for it. I recommend it.