Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Review: Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre

Title: Three Days and a Life
Author: Pierre Lemaitre
Published: November 2017, MacLehose Press/Quercus
Format: ARC Paperback, 208 pages
Source: Publisher
 
In 1999, in the small provincial town of Beauval, France, twelve-year-old Antoine Courtin accidentally kills a young neighbor boy in the woods near his home. Panicked, he conceals the body and to his relief--and ongoing shame--he is never suspected of any connection to the child's disappearance. 

But the boy's death continues to haunt him, shaping his life in unseen ways. More than a decade later, Antoine is living in Paris, now a young doctor with a fiancee and a promising future. On a rare trip home to the town he hates and fears, Antoine thoughtlessly sleeps with a beautiful young woman from his past. She shows up pregnant at his doorstep in Paris a few months later, insisting that they marry, but Antoine refuses. 

Meanwhile, the newly discovered body of Antoine's childhood victim means that the case has been reopened, and all of his old fears rush back. Then the young woman's father threatens Antoine with a paternity test--which would almost certainly match the DNA found on the dead child's body. Will Antoine finally be forced to confront his crime? And what is he prepared to do to keep his secrets buried in the past?

My thoughts: This is my second Pierre Lemaitre book and I have to say, I was once again blown away by the quality of his writing. While the two books of his that I have now read are quite different, I do have to say I am definitely a fan of his works and will certainly be going back to read the rest of his books while I wait to see what comes next!

This book, as compared to the previous book I had read of his, Blood Wedding - which I absolutely loved! - is, in my mind, quite different as it's more of a character study than a psychological thriller. That's not to say that it's not as compelling, but it just has a bit of a different feel. It's still dark, but not quite driven by the crime as much as I feel Blood Wedding is. In a nutshell, Three Days is a very chilling account of what is really a very unfortunate event in the life of a child that is then compounded again and again. 

I think what kept me engaged in this story is that the suspense is not in your face but rather it builds ever so slowly. Most of the story takes place over the course of three days, right after the first unfortunate event...when Antoine is haunted by what he has done, but is not sure what he should do now. We are privy to Antoine's every thought and action...should he turn himself in, should he run away...we know all his plans and fears. And as all this is going on, you find yourself constantly in flux as to how you feel about this character - who after all is a child himself, but one who has committed the worst sin. You find yourself alternating between sympathy for him and then wanting him to turn himself in...that's what I found to be so crazy! How truly remarkable this writer is to make me feel that way.

This book is so unlike anything I've read before. It's so not cut and dry. It's not black and white. There are shades of gray throughout...you will feel sympathy for Antoine, you will rage against him. You will feel many things for him, but most importantly, this book will make you think! And that is what I love...I love a book that makes me think. This is not a twisty, fast-paced crime thriller by any means, but rather an intense, character-driven tale about how guilt over one senseless act can impact the rest of your life. 

Two different books by this author have really made quite an impression on me and now I cannot wait to read more by him. I really need to get my hands on his Camille trilogy - have you read them yet? And I hope to hear that he has another book in the works soon...as I am definitely a fan!!!

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1 comment

  1. Convoluted to say the least but very good reading. Thank you for the review.

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