Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Europa Editions, You've Done it Again

My love affair with this publisher continues unabated as they persist in putting out the loveliest looking books from Europe's best, I would guess, mid-list authors. No slam bam James Pattersons for Europa, no sir. The latest of their impressive releases is Laurence Cosse's An Accident in August, an absolutely stunning examination of the effects of guilt on the human psyche.

AN Accident in August: A Novel

Like foreign films, these novels translated into English, are meant to be savored. They begin slowly and build gradually so that when you're hit between the eyes with the action it's shocking, unexpected and fabulous. This particular book would make a terrific movie. All the camera would have to do is follow Lou around for a week trained on her face. With the right actress for the role, the entire novel would be to told through her expressions.

Lou is a victim of Fate with a capitol F. At the wrong place, the entrance to the Alma tunnel in Paris, at the wrong time, the exact moment that Princess Di's Mercedes is barreling away from the hotel, her slow moving Fiat is clipped by the Mercedes as it rams out of control into a cement piling, resulting in the accident of the decade.
Lou is so stunned and shaken that she just continues to drive away, unaware of the famous victims she's abandoning in her wake, until the next morning, that is, when the media frenzy changes the direction of her life.

As Lou changes before our very eyes one wonders why her lover, Yvon, doesn't force her to unburden herself of the guilty load she's carrying. Cosse gets the reader inside Lou's head as she plots and schemes to cover her tracks and erase all evidence of her presence at the scene of the crash. One bad decision after another brought to my mind that old saying "oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive."

Cosse, whose A Novel Bookstore, I wrote about here last year, has outdone herself with this small but incisive character study that managed to shock me more than once by taking off in directions I never would have expected. This is a very satisfying read.

 I'm sorry that I can't say the same for the madly far-fetched novel, The Informationist, which I also finished this week.  Can someone who read this, Linda perhaps, tell me how early in the book you were able to surmise who the bad guy was? OK, admittedly, I stuck with it to its conclusion but Michael/Vanessa was without a doubt the most unbelievable character I've ever encountered in literature.

 I almost laughed out loud at some of the deadly predicaments she managed to fight, slash, and shoot her way out of. Shades of 007 abound and the willing suspension of disbelief is a requirement if you intend to hang with Taylor Stevens to the end of this debut thriller. But don't take my word as the be all and end all, the Amazon reviewers went mad for this novel, comparing Michael Vanessa Monroe to Lizbeth Salander and pre-ordering the follow up due out in December.

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