Monday, 16 September 2013


by Pierre Lemaitre
MacLehose Press (June 3, 2014)
352 pages - 12.92 $

ISBN-10: 1623651247

Nouveau sur le blog : pour la version française, cliquez sur l'onglet ci-dessus)

It's thanks to Marina Sofia on Twitter, whose excellent blog is here that I discovered Pierre Lemaitre. No longer living in France, I 'm not really aware of the authors in the hexagon and as I read mostly in English ... it does not help matters. But Marina, she knows these authors and she is a great source of information. So I decided to read Alex after hearing so much about that book from her and read her review here on Crime Fiction Lover (thanks! Marina).

Alex is also my first book of the R.I.P. VIII challenge !


Upon winning the prestigious 2013 Crime Writers Association International Dagger Award, the judges praised Alex by saying, “An original and absorbing ability to leash incredulity in the name of the fictional contract between author and reader . . . A police procedural, a thriller against time, a race between hunted and hunter, and a whydunnit, written from multiple points of view that explore several apparently parallel stories which finally meet.”

Alex Prévost—kidnapped, savagely beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a tiny wooden cage—is running out of time. Her abductor appears to want only to watch her die. Will hunger, thirst, or the rats get her first?

Apart from a shaky eyewitness report of the abduction, Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on: no suspect, no leads, and no family or friends anxious to find a missing loved one. The diminutive and brilliant detective knows from bitter experience the urgency of finding the missing woman as quickly as possible—but first he must understand more about her. 

As he uncovers the details of the young woman’s singular history, Camille is forced to acknowledge that the person he seeks is no ordinary victim. She is beautiful, yes, but also extremely tough and resourceful. Before long, saving Alex’s life will be the least of Commandant Verhoeven’s considerable challenges.

What I think

Phew! One thing is sure , this book leaves no one indifferent !

Talking characters. Here we have Alex, victim or executioner? We do not know much about her until the end, and yet we feel for her a range of emotions! Her character is excellently written. She remains a mystery, but she seems fragile, very sure of herself, cold, she seems to suffer. You won't know if you like her or hate her or if you're concerned for her or if you think that she has it coming. I started to love her, then I did not know what to think of her. I wanted to blame Alex, but it was at odds with what I had felt for her before! And at the end! the end is incredible, again a change of context, another way of seeing things, it is even more confusing than it was. Pierre Lemaitre is really good in mixing your feelings! Facing Alex, we have cops: Camille, a (very) small in size, but (very) tough in determination Police commandant, Louis, the distinguished cop and Armand the generous stripper cop (you must read the book to know how that can be!) A trio not trivial, with a strong bond. This book bring some very engaging and realistic characters.

The plot changes along the course of the story, we're looking for a victim, then for a hangman, we're looking for the reason behind all that's happening, we're seeking justice. The characters remain the same but the roles change. The context plays a growing role in the explanation. Everything must be understood and will be... at the end !

Another important point in this book, which deserves to be mentioned because it is quite rare in thrillers. Reading the back cover, I saw the Figaro and Le Monde reviews - two French newspapers - the journalists spoke of a literary novel ... ok. So I started this book with a slight fear: will the bombastic style upstage the plot? Well not at all, on the contrary. The writing is fluid, often funny, tragic, cold and never boring. Indeed the quality of the writing is closer to literary style than thriller style. But you'll find literary flights, as well as slang dialogues, short shock sentences and very long sentences, sometimes only impactful words. It seems that Lemaitre is as strong to play with our feelings as he is to play with words .

In a nutshell

A very nice discovery for me. I loved the story as much as the writing style. I highly recommend this book ! I give it a 4.5/5. 

My thought on closing the book : Oh damn, it serves ... right (you 'll have to read the book to know who!)


  1. Bless you, Vanessa, how kind of you to mention me and I'm glad you enjoyed the book as much as I did! I just have a small correction to make: it was not on my own blog that I reviewed Alex, but part of my contribution on Crime Fiction Lover website.
    Credit where it's due!

  2. Omission corrected :) Thanks Marina!