Saturday, 21 April 2018

Book Review #96 : The Accident on the A35

Author Name: Graeme Macrae Burnet
Book Title: The Accident on the A35
ISBN:  9781925603057
Year of Publication: 2017
Publisher: BEE Books

The Accident on the A35 is, according to the preface, the translation of an unpublished Brunet manuscript, released after his mother’s death.
The book centres around detective George Gorski and the small, seemingly dead end town of Saint Louis in which he lives. When the book opens, Gorski’s wife has left him and he is called to the scene of a car accident on a nearby road. The scene appears to be an open and shut case but there are some odd details and Gorski allows himself to be charmed by the dead man’s widow into investigating further. At the same time, the dead man’s son Raymond, after finding an address in his father’s drawer of a house in a nearby town, is also both investigating and trying to grow up.
The Accident on the A35 is written in the mould of a classic French crime novel, it is intensely focussed on the characters of Gorski and Raymond and is less about the solution to the crime, if indeed there is one, than the impact that the events surrounding the death have on them. Gorski gets caught up with an unsolved crime in a nearby town and Lambert, the shonky detective running the case. Raymond finds himself shoplifting and becoming obsessed with a girl called Delph who lives in the block of apartments that he has been watching.
Crafting a crime novel that is more about the effects of a crime and its investigation and resolution than a crime itself. But this device does provide another, potentially deeper layer to the text and the end notes invite the reader to consider how autobiographical the fiction is in relation to the life of Raymond Brunet.

It’s slow, atmospheric, often surprising, with a denouement which is beautifully under-played. One should also say it is daring, for it is rash to venture into the territory of a master-novelist. I found it enjoyable, a very nice piece of craftsmanship, and hope that Burnet may yet discover other unpublished novels by the hitherto obscure Raymond Brunet.

What’s impressive about Burnet’s new novel is the way in which even though both of his main characters – Gorski and Raymond – are pushed to extremes, tested almost to destruction, their interior lives remain credible throughout. Mad, or blurred with drink, or both, but definitely credible. Which takes some doing.
VERDICT - This book reads like a lavishly detailed, psychologically accurate, intelligent, well-plotted, unsimple Simenon. To be honest this one started out slow, but once I got into it, boy was I rewarded! I think it took me awhile to get used to the writing, but in saying that, the clever writing was lovely, just a different style to what I've been used to. Graeme Macrae Burnet truly has a style all of his own. An enjoyable and quick read. I  really rate Graeme Macrae Burnet as a very clever contributor to the development of the literary detective genre. He’s inspired and inspiring to read.
Rating - 4.5/5

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