Pierre Lemaitre has one of the most wonderfully twisted minds of crime fiction and the psychological thriller. On the heels of his award-winning Commandant Verhoeven trilogy (Alex, Irene and Camille, two of which won the prestigious CWA International Dagger Award), Lemaitre has written a tremendous standalone novel in Blood Wedding.
When the bodies connected to Sophie start adding up, she goes on the run, changing her name and location repeatedly to stay ahead of the authorities. Safety is hard to come by when she doesn't understand what she's running from, but as Sophie looks back she begins to figure out she’s up against more than her own mind. Unsettling and smart, Blood Wedding is intricately plotted along parallel timelines, and the screws tighten skillfully as Lemaitre winds through Sophie’s nightmare and toward the ultimate reveal.
Lemaitre's work is inspired and disturbing and can't be trusted. With precise yet elegant prose, he manipulates and unnerves. Like Sophie, the only thing the reader can be sure of is that things aren’t what they seem. Although Lemaitre’s work is not normally for the faint of heart, Blood Wedding is more about psychology than violence and thus relatively safe for the squeamish.
STREET SENSE: If you are a fan of the psychological thriller, of being held in suspense along with your protagonist and not knowing what's happening under the surface, grab this one. If you like a bit of twisted with your thriller, grab this one. Lemaitre is a master. If you're into crime fiction, read the trilogy. Read any Lemaitre, an author this good should be more well-known here in the U.S.
A FAVORITE PASSAGE: Sophie never measures the years since she first went mad. It goes back too far. Perhaps because of the anguish involved, she feels the years count double. It began as a gradual descent, but as the months passed she be an to feel she was on a toboggan, hurtling downhill. Sophie was married then. It was a time before...all this...A therapist suggested a spell in the hospital. She refused, until death arrived, uninvited, to join her madness.
COVER NERD SAYS: Lemaitre's covers are usually quite simple, a single image against a dark background. I'm not a huge fan of the single flower covers, which seem to have flooded the cover market as of late. However, I do like the fact that this dark red rose is tinged with black, and I love what they've done with Lemaitre's name. Overall I think the cover is ominously effective, I just wish the image was something other than a flower.
A version of this review previously appeared in Shelf Awareness and is reprinted here with permission.