The Stranger in the Seine by Guillaume Musso, trans. Rosie Eyre

In the past I never would have said that I was put off by long books but it seems that nowadays I am. I had picked up City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg, all 900+ pages of it and just couldn’t be bothered having read the first chapter. Then I picked up The Stranger in the Seine and settled straight down into it and read it in one day over a couple of sittings.

A woman is pulled out of the Seine, naked and not making much sense. She is taken into custody but escapes because there are not enough staff to escort her to the hospital where she will be held. The detective Roxane Montchrestien has just been removed from her post and deposited in an out-of-the-way role looking into cases that have a bit of the paranormal about them when the woman in the Seine case lands in her lap. What looks like a fairly straightforward problem turns into a twisty tale with much more of a back story than is first made clear. The DNA evidence left by the woman when she escaped suggests that she was Mila Bergman, a pianist killed in an air crash over a year ago.

Montchrestien and her student working with her manage to find out a lot of information but eventually the case becomes so big that her old team take it on and she is back working with them, solving the case. Montchrestien is interested in literature and a lot of the case swings around knowledge of Dionysus which is shared in the book.

I did think the translation left a bit to be desired. There were several points which grated. Parts were too informal and others were things we just don’t say such as someone being as ‘thick as a whale omelette’. I liked that the story was told from different points of view as we moved through it and that these voices changed more frequently as we neared the end point. Except that it wasn’t the end and that was so disappointing. It is left open in a way that can only be dealt with by writing another book.

A mixed feast.

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