Bold, bloody and devastating.
For Commandant Verhœven life is beautiful: he is happily married, expecting his first child with the lovely Irène.
But his blissful existence is punctured by a murder of unprecedented savagery. Worse still, the press seem to have it in for him – his every move is headline news. When he discovers that the killer has killed before – that each murder is a homage to a classic crime novel – the fourth estate are quick to coin a nickname . . . The Novelist . . .
With both men in the public eye, the case develops into a personal duel, each hell-bent on outsmarting the other. There can only be one winner – whoever has the least to lose . . .
My first thoughts are that this book is bloody and dark and twisted beyond my general tolerance for such things. The horror, torture, brutality and the vivid depiction of the savage crimes against women left me stunned and shattered my dreams. I woke with a bad taste in my mouth.
However with reflection and distance I can see the book is very well written and translated, the only problem here that this, the first book in the series was translated and released second to the memorable Alex, Alex is outstanding. Which also meant that the reader already had some idea of the outcome for the book before they started reading Irene. As I have read a considerable number of books since reading Alex this was not too much of a problem for me.
Back to the merits of the book; great character development, a rich and twisted plot, a narrative that pays homage to other esteemed books of crime fiction including but not limited to American Psycho and the Black Dahlia. This referencing adds another layer to the narrative and is cleverly executed.
In all this is a fast paced, compelling and violent read that necessitates reading with one hand partially covering the eyes at times and sleeping with the light on.