Sunday, 1 June 2014

Irene - Pierre LeMaitre

Following on in the UK is this translation from the original French by Frank Wynne and it's a good one.

The first section of the book gives detail of the difference to the French judicial system to the English. In France a judge can be allocated as part of the investigating team to a particular crime. When the case gets to court the judge is part of the prosecuting team rather than on the bench. After being part of a team against a defendant the judge is not allowed to act as judge at any time in the future against this person.

Despite th fact that this is the second book in the UK it is the predecessor to Alex which proved amazingly popular.
This means that those people that have read Alex have an idea of the ending. I was one of them. I did skip straight to the end to confirm and also to get what was likely to be extreme gruesomeness out of the way.
Then it was back to the beginning retaining the uncomfortable knowledge of the ending. Or so I thought.
The police team consists of the diminutive Commandant Camille VerHoeven (male) and his subordinates, Louis- extremely rich and Armand, extremely frugal, embarassingly so and Maleval, the gambler. All of them overseen by LeGuen.
Someone is killing women. they're leaving behind a clue in the form of a fingerprint and sending messages to VerHoeven to taunt him. As well as investigating he has to deal with the press who are ahead of the press releases somehow. Commandant is spending more time than is ideal batting away press hassle and his boss demanding answers.
At the same time he's trying to keep his family situation sane as his wife prepares to give birth to their first child.
Clues accumulate on the murders and gain attention of locals who are able to help. This all muddies the waters as far as suspects are concerned.
Multiple murders and multiple strands to the investigation alongside the main players relationships make a very entertaining book and a book well worth reading even if you've read Alex.
All of this culminates in one humdinger of an ending which hits the reader full on towards the end. I can definitely see this one as an excellent film. Tom Cruise would make a perfect VerHoeven :)
Buy it here

Publisher - MacLehose

The Skeleton Cupboard - Tanya Byron

A travel through the evolution of a clinical psychologist, from initial wonder as to how the brain works to years of experience.

Tanya Byron has taken cases from each step of her progress to illustrate the case, her dealing with it and, in the earlier cases, her mentor's assessment of the case and her reactions.

Put together these aspects make an educational and, at times, heart-rending read. Despite being about health it is nowhere near similar to the misery literature clogging up bookshelves at the moment.

The reader can feel the frustration of investing such a large amount of emotional commitment and time into a career only to find the mentor appears to be disinterested as Byron struggles to believe in her own ability and searches for affirmation of her skill. You get no impression of the author having written only for the purposes of blowing her own trumpet. Reading may mean that you are able to be a bit more generous in your perception but not necessarily that you'll be able to jump in and help in any given situation. Unless you're already a health professional.

Empathy with the new psychologist comes into it when there's a case that is doomed fom the start and unusually for this type of book not all of the cases are out and out successes. Across the seven chapters they range from a married pensioner couple whose story is simply heartbreaking and beautiful to transgender individuals to drug addicts.

The book has the same readability of  Tori Hayden without the congratulatory self-patting on the back. I predict this one will fly higher and soar longer than Hayden.

All in all it's a must read- especially if you think dementia is as simple as forgetting things when you're older.

Publisher - MacMillan