Source: Review Copy
Publication: Originally published by Contraband on 5th April 2018. This US edition published by Arcade on 1st November 2018
There does not appear to be anything remarkable about the fatal car crash on the A35. But one question dogs Inspector Georges Gorski: where has the victim, an outwardly austere lawyer, been on the night of his death?
The troubled Gorski finds himself drawn into a mystery that takes him behind the respectable veneer of the sleepy French backwater of Saint-Louis.
Graeme Macrae Burnet returns with a literary mystery that will beguile fans of “His Bloody Project” and “The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau”. Darkly humorous, subtle and sophisticated, “The Accident on the A35” burrows deep into the psyches of its characters and explores the forgotten corners of small-town life.
Graeme Macrae Burnet’s writing always transports me to my happy place. After reading and loving The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau, I knew I had to read more of Inspector Georges Gorski and his life in the sleepy mediocre French town of Saint- Louis, near the Swiss border. So I am grateful to Skyhorse and Arcadia Publishing for this opportunity.
This is prose you can wallow in and life described that, for all its ennui, you feel you could be living. It is France for the Francophile and I loved it.
Like his previous book, Burnet affects to be the translator of this work by author Raymond Brunet and we will come to understand that it carries strongly autobiographical overtones of M. Brunet’s own life.
George Gorski, Inspector of Police in the town is separated from his wife, Celine, and though not really missing her, he feels more keenly the absence of his daughter, Clemence. He spends his free moments in the town’s cafes, trying to avoid being too obvious a drinker.
When a fatal car accident on the A35 kills long established lawyer Bernard Barthelme, the case looks pretty mundane. But Barthelme’s somewhat attractive widow Lucette, asks Gorski to find out just why Barthelme was on that road at all.
Gorski, who has little else to do and who feels an attraction for Mme Barthelme, agrees to see what he can find out.
Meanwhile, M. Barthelme’s teenage son, Raymond, has questions of his own and in seeking the answers he will find out some truths that will have far reaching consequences.
This book works because of the richness of its characters, the resonance of the time, place and setting. All these things come together to offer an immensely rich story telling experience that keeps the reader spellbound. This is an old fashioned mystery, solved the old fashioned way, without drama, tension or even the hint of a fast paced thrill. Like Simenon, Brunet/Burnet’s Gorski solves his crimes by knowing and understanding human emotion and behaviour and without expectation of pleasure or reward.
I revel in the languid prose, the detailed descriptiveness and the sheer fabulousness of the writing. This is a bright and shining gem in a yard that can often feel full of coal.
Verdict: Terrific prose and an homage to literary antecedent such as Simenon, I was immersed in The Accident on the A35. I loved it and its high on my must read list.
About Graeme Macrae Burnet
Graeme is the author of three novels, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau (2014) , the Man Booker shortlisted His Bloody Project (2015), and The Accident on the A35 (October 2017). His Bloody Project is to be published in over 20 countries including Germany, the US, Russia, China and France.
He has appeared at festivals and events in Edinburgh, Los Angeles, Adelaide, Macau, Estonia, Moscow, Cheltenham, Berlin, Paris, Glasgow, London, Ullapool and many more. If you’d like to book him for an event, you can get in touch on Facebook or Twitter or through his publisher, Saraband. He is part of the Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature Database, which can help with funding for events in Scotland.
Graeme was born in Kilmarnock in Scotland and now lives in Glasgow. Previously he has lived and worked in Prague, Porto, Bordeaux and London. He has an MA in English Literature/Film Studies from Glasgow University and an M.Litt in International Security Studies from St Andrews.
Graeme is also the current holder of the much coveted Christopher Brookmyre Cup.