Today on TBF, we have Accident on the A35 by Graeme Macrae Burnet from Bee Books.
The book brings back Inspector Georges Gorski to find a crime scene which is an accident on the A35. When he looks through the shattered car, he finds M. Bertrand Barthelme, a lawyer and One of the spare rich gents in their small town of Saint Louis. He first dismisses it as a routine speeding car accident and doesn’t think much of it but when the victim’s widow informs him that her husband always had a set routine of spending Tuesdays with his law firm partner and other friends at a restaurant, he decides take a look around for her sake. What he finds is an interesting mix of a suspect pool. In Burnet’s style, we find ourselves looking through every character’s eyes, finally unravelling the mystery or the lack of it.
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!!
Disclaimer : I was sent a review copy by the publishers in exchange of an honest review.
Until next time!!