The Other Mother by Michel Bussi

Well, this book kept me guessing right to the end.

The story brings together two seemingly disparate strands, a daring heist that goes wrong and a child who tells the school psychologist that the mother he is with is not his real mother. And then we have the police detective, female, nearing forty with a lot of her thinking occupied by wanting a child and sexually objectifying her colleagues.

The book explores in some detail how memories are formed in young children. Malone Moulin claims that his mother is not his real mother and the evidence that he provides, stories and things he has remembered seeing, convince the psychologist that he is telling the truth although no one else believes him apart from his favourite toy Gouti. His parents can provide ample evidence that he is their child with a birth certificate and photos of his life. The psychologist reports his beliefs to the police in the form of Marianne.

Marianne, however, is consumed by another crime where she and her team have managed to allow a criminal who is injured to escape and they can not find him. Each time they get a tip off, they turn up and Timor Soler has been moved. Marianne meets regularly with her new friend Angelique to drink and discuss men and it turns out that she suggested the psychologist report his fears about the child to Marianne.

We then go on some twists and turns, only a few of which I anticipated. A large part of the story hangs on the idea that a child before he is three will not remember events unless prompted by parents, photos and talk. So how is Malone sticking so clearly to his story at the age of four. In most children, previous events would be fading from his memory but this idea of his ‘real’ mother is not fading. The key question is how is this idea being reinforced. Solve that and you are half way to solving the crime.

Of course the two stories are not separate and once they come together the book becomes even pacier.

A great read even if the very ending was a little unbelievable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *