The Accident on the A35 [Paperback] Graeme Macrae Burnet, mystery, fiction, detective Paperback – 2018
MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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There does not appear to be anything remarkable about the fatal car crash on the A35. But one question dogs Inspector Georges Gorski: where has the victim, an outwardly austere lawyer, been on the night of his death? The troubled Gorski finds himself drawn into a mystery that takes him behind the respectable veneer of the sleepy French backwater of Saint-Louis. Graeme Macrae Burnet returns with a literary mystery that will beguile fans of His Bloody Project and The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau. Darkly humorous, subtle and sophisticated, The Accident on the A35 burrows deep into the psyches of its characters and explores the forgotten corners of small-town life.
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If you've read my review of his previous book, The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau, then you would know that I'm more intrigued by the writer than his novels. As the name suggests, the story is a thriller but unlike your ordinary fast paced, run through the plot and get to the good stuff thrillers, this one takes it slow. Excruciatingly so. He doesn't emphasise much on the happening but on the people and the focus of the mystery usually rests at the Base understanding of its characters. I've always read thrillers that make sure you are glued to every page by offering up bits of information about the actual plot but this one is totally different. He makes sure you get the plot but only after a blow by blow take on the people. In a way, he banks on them to make way for the climax.
We have already met Georges Gorski in the previous book but this one takes a more personal look at the inspector. Set after the incident of The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau, Gorski finds himself alone as his wife Celine and daughter Celemence, leave him. The case intermingled with his own personal issues creates for quite a read.
What makes it even more interesting are the prefaces and after words in every book. You find yourself drawn into a whole another mystery, one that baffles and intrigues you without giving anything away. I have read 2 out of 3 of his works now and I've already put The Bloody Project on my haul list.
The characters of the book are in their own unique way indifferent, despicable and lost. The use of the previous book's setting to create a flow in this one was a great technique to keep the readers interested for more. The underlying theme of darkness that persists in every human actually makes you hate the characters for I don't think they were meant to be loved. They are people you wouldn't invite to your homes or your lives and it works for the novel. This is the first ever technique of using a slow paced novel I've ever seen in which the characters are key over the actual mystery.
Obviously the backdrop of a small town manifests into the story with more of necessity than of a choice because such characters or the story wouldn't have held the same salt otherwise. The clever marking of the author where he slyly puts in references to 'a 40 year old author jumping in front of a train' eluding to the mystery as well as maintaining its overall facade of the put up scene are exactly the kind of literary genius the world needs. If he keeps going, I reckon the road from the Shortlist to the actual prize isn't that far off.
All in all, 5 stars for this literary genius and a better novel than the last. Slow paced but a whacker of a novel. Highly, highly recommended!!
Apparently, Barthelme was not supposed to be on A35 as he was supposed to be attending a dinner with his business colleagues at another part of the town. So at the request of Barthelme's widow, Gorski begins to investigate his activities and whereabouts on the date of his death. Around such investigation and its findings the plot revolves and expands.
The story progresses at a calmer pace as compared to other crime fiction novels and takes its time to develop the characters, surroundings and mood of the story. The descriptions and observations are beautifully described and the feelings and thoughts of the characters are striking. I was able to observe a few examples of such a descriptive style of writing which caught me completely off guard and surprised me with their poetic nature.
Raymond after the death of his father suddenly finds a new freedom for which he is not accountable to anyone. He undergoes major behavioural changes and follows his instincts many times by stealing, smoking, drinking, indulging in sexual pleasures. His relationship with his father was very strained which can be seen throughout the book.
There is a lot of commentary on the smaller town of Saint Louis and the narrator often would compare the pros and cons of living in such town.
The story unfolds in quite expected manner and there are no sudden plot twists and turns to throw off the reader. But the thing that appealed to me in this this book was not the story but the beautiful and descriptive style of writing. This book is certainly not the one which should be read with pre-conceived notions of crime fiction book and is for the people who enjoy sophisticated and artful reading.
There is nothing dark or troubling about the plot of the book and is fairly predictable. This could be the reason why some people might struggle to finish the book.