Alex (Verhœven, #1) - Pierre Lemaitre, Frank Wynne

During November this year Crime Writers Association came up with a poll, which among other categories voted Agatha Christie as the best ever crime writer. Maxim Jakubowski, a CWA member and a celebrated crime novelist was not happy with the verdict or the choices put up in the poll. According to him, and I also believe, that although Dame Christie remains as the doyenne of crime writing, but the genre in itself has developed way beyond what she created, and that today its encompasses much more than just being populist literature. But, it’s also true that any crime writer does need to pay his respect to the shrine of Christie, atleast once in his/her career. Alex by Pierre Lemaitre shows us in the clearest way possible how crime fiction has travelled this long way to stand where it is today.

 

Dont read this book. If your life is almost perfect. If you have a cozy atmosphere surrounding you, if you are yet to face crumbling situations, and insane brutality which makes you realise that there is always “Evil Under The Sun”. Because this book will make you sad, angry, will make you feel helpless, will make you wonder what kind of a person is capable of such brutality. But, then again, read it. Read it because if you like crime fiction, you will be guilty of murder if you skip this book. Because as soon as you finish it you will rush out of your house catch anyone you see first, and will start babbling that you have just finished an awfully gruesome, conceited, twisted crime thriller which you need to talk about.

 

As the name of the book suggests this book is about Alex Prevost. Every chapter, every page is dedicated to this character. For all those who thought Amy from Gone Girl was intriguing, they will have a tough choice in front of them once they have finished this book.

 

Commandant Camille Verhoeven, the protagonist, a bitter man who has just lost his pregnant wife to a kidnapper, reminded me of Endeavor Morse. Easily irritated, living alone he even has a assistant whose name is Louis. Even the relation between him and his superior Le Guen, reminded me of Morse and Strange.  And somewhat for this reason the character of Verhoeven never made a definite impression on my mind. Maybe because it was the close proximity to Morse’s character, but what the real reason was, the presence of Alex. In a book whenever there remains a character as enigmatic as Alex Prevost, it becomes too difficult for the other characters to make an impression over and above her.

 

The plot is something which I have never read before. While the conventional points of twists and pace was ever present, but what would make this book as different as possible from most crime fiction, is the.....the problem here is, the reader should go into the book without any inkling of what’s there in the plot, what to expect. That way the enjoyment (if the emotion that emerges at the end of the book can be called that) will be at its zenith.

 

So, Monsieur Lemaitre, the end of my edition says that you will be coming out with next book in 2014. 2014 is here, and I cant wait to get my hands on it.

P.S. For all those who thought Jo Nesbo could be gory and brutal (including me), please take the plunge.