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Review: L'été tous les chats s'ennuient, by Philippe Georget

This was a stronger entry in the contemporary canon of detective thrillers!


The story is basically this: Gilles Sebag, an unambitious police officer in Perpignan (which, sidenote, is a truly lovely city near the Spanish border, with lots of excellent food and beautiful seaviews; I highly recommend) gets sucked into a game of cat-and-mouse with a kidnapper who might also be a serial killer.


I liked the multi-layered nature of the story, the complexity of the characters (although the secondary characters do suffer from being far less fleshed out and therefore feeling like interchangeable two-dimensional stock footage), and how the answers doesn't come to the central detective in a stroke of unearned genius, but rather by him going back over old reports and picking up on mistakes that were made by the people around him. That's another thing I liked about this story - the detectives and the gendarmes (yes, there is a difference - very briefly, the gendarmerie is a subdivision of the military and gendarmes are soldiers, usually posted in barracks in rural areas and the suburbs; the police are under the authority of the Ministry of the Interior and are usually centered on the major urban areas; the duties of both however are broadly similar, i.e. they solve crimes and are law enforcement. Lesson on French bureaucracy over for now, back to the book) make mistakes and are motivated by things other than the case and catching the killer; they are people with their own lives and their own troubles that sometimes bleed over into their work personas and lead them to overlook things or leave things till tomorrow.


The story also moves at a pretty good pace that I think mimics the most successful examples of the genre: the investigation starts slowly, with a lot of different threads and questions and puzzle pieces, and then once things start coming together the pace picks up and moves towards a resolution. The resolution also feels satisfying - the questions aren't all answered, because they can't be based on what happens earlier in the plot (I won't tell you because I don't want to spoil it), but things are left open-ended enough in both Sebag's personal and professional life that I am eager to keep reading the series.


The quality of the writing is obviously not the best, as it does remain a fairly run of the mill detective thriller; but for this genre it's quite good writing with good dialogue, good metaphors, and good clues being left without being made obvious (as, we all know, exactly how I like my clues being dropped into the text). If you suspend your disbelief about the motivations of the criminal, it's one of the better examples of an easy to read but still good piece of detective mystery.


And obviously Georget did something right, since I've already purchased the other three books in this series.


And fret you not - there is an English translation available here.


Happy reading,

Amélie xx

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About

I’m Amélie, I love books and reading, and I also love talking about them.

I’m incredibly lucky to be bilingual, so I read books in both French and English, and will talk about both of those on here – although I will do more in English, since I know that’s probably what the majority of the people who ever find this blog will be interested in!

I also like history, traveling, Shakespeare, coffee, cheese, musicals, Italian Baroque art, the ballet, Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, flowers, makeup, high heels, and baking. Yes, I’m a walking cliché. I am aware.

Please do tweet at me with any suggestions/book recommendations/thoughts.

In case you’re curious – yes, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book of all time.