The Continental Affair by Christine Mangan

This is a cat and mouse chase of a story. Think Tom and Jerry but in slow motion, on trains moving around Europe. Henri is an ex-gendarme and Louise is a woman released from duty by the death of her father. Somehow. Louise managed to pick up the money Henri was supposed to collect for his family, they are criminals, and he then followed her on a journey around Europe thinking he was going to get the money back but not doing so.

The structure is a before and after one and so the story moves forward in one section and then back again in the next – 2 steps forward, 1 step back, which is quite clever but a little confusing for the reader. I can see how the structure zig zags to replicate the chase but this combined with the dual voiced narration complicated things for this reader.

About two thirds of the way through the story I just wanted Henri to get the money and for the situation to be resolved. I couldn’t bear the thought that they would just get on another train and go somewhere else with the problem no nearer its conclusion. I did think the characters were interesting and the slow reveal of what Louise had done was engaging as were the places that they visited. It had a slight Agatha Christie feel but set in the 60s when things were just starting to loosen up a bit and a woman’s role was not at home in the kitchen.

There used to be an advert for railways that said ‘It’s quicker by train’. Not in this book it isn’t.

This is a book from my local library and so fits into the A-Z challenge where I must read a book from each letter of the alphabet without reserving it. The books must be on the shelves in my local. This one fits under M (going by author’s surname).

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