Tuesday, 29 April 2014
The Lying-down Room by Anna Jaquiery
review by Maryom
In the sweltering heat of a Parisian summer, Commandant Serge Morel is called to an unusual murder scene - to the casual eye, the elderly victim, Isabelle Dufour, could almost seem to have died peacefully in her sleep - if it weren't for the too-carefully arranged body, and the heavy grotesque makeup and bright red wig worn by the deceased.
It's a crime scene short on clues - the only possible lead is a pile of religious pamphlets found on the victim's bedside table and attention is soon focussed on the distributors - a middle-aged man accompanied by a mute teenage boy - who seem to have been targeting elderly women.Why would anyone have anything to fear from such a pair? Looking for the answer leads Morel and his team to the remote countryside of Brittany and back in time to the days of Soviet Russia.
The Lying-down Room is an interesting and enjoyable start to a new crime series - set in Paris and 'starring' Commandant Serge Morel, a quiet 'thinking' detective who creates origami sculptures to relax and focus his thoughts. He of course has problems of his own (what fictional cop doesn't have?) - his elderly father, slipping rapidly into senility; a long-term relationship with a married woman; and the return of a woman from his past - in addition to under-funding, under-staffing and a boss more interested in statistics and looking good on TV than diligent police work.
Both characters and plot-line hooked me almost from the first page. The story is unusual without descending into depths of blood-letting and gore; the characters well-rounded although I suspect they, particularly the minor ones, will develop more over the coming books. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more in this series.
Mixing police procedural with insights into the perpetrator's head lets the reader get a step or two ahead of the police, while an increasing body-count ups the tension. Only one quibble - the title somewhat points the reader in the direction of the guilty party.
Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Mantle (Panmacmillan)
Genre - adult, crime, police procedural,
Buy The Lying Down Room (Serge Morel 1) from Amazon