Monday, 10 November 2014

Book Review: Significance - Jo Mazelis

Synopsis - Lucy Swann is trying on a new life.  She's bought new clothes and cut and dyed her hair.  But in a small town in northern France her flight is violently cut short.  When Inspector Vivier and his handsome assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation into her murder, the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance.  Lucy's death, like a stone thrown into a pool, sends out far-reaching ripples, altering the lives of people who never knew her, and the lives of her loved ones back home.

Review -  I received this book for review from Seren Books.

The central story is the murder of Lucy Swann but where this story differs from most crime fiction is that the main focus is not on the murder or criminal investigation itself.  Rather than centring the story around finding the killer and bringing them to justice, the author chooses to look at the characters involved.  I say involved, meaning both those who interacted with Lucy before her murder and others who involved themselves in some way after the crime was committed.  Ms Mazelis explores the thoughts and actions of the key characters.

We have established that Lucy is running away from England and we are given possible reasons why.  We know who Lucy spoke to before her murder and that a conversation was overheard.  She drops her cardigan on her way back to the hotel and the cardigan is picked up and put down by a couple of characters, this does not go unnoticed.  We learn that before Lucy, a prostitute was murdered in the town.  The investigators have to work out if it is the same MO and find out who this latest victim is.  They know she is foreign, English or American, and they know who she spoke to, who picked up her cardigan and whose DNA is on the cardigan.  The police pick up three suspects all with their own worries and problems at being detained.  The relationship between Vivier and his female assistant is explored and also the attitudes and behaviours of the junior officers towards Sabine Pelat.  Is it safe for a woman to go out on a dark evening on her own?  Why do men regard women in a sexual manner?  Should women hold senior posts in the police force?  Questions are raised and explored through the narrative in this story.

I enjoyed reading this large book.  It is not a traditional whodunnit but a novel that makes you think.  Writing in this literary manner reminded me of the writers of the early twentieth century who wrote predominantly for those on the same level of intellect.  I am not saying that today's writing is dumbed down, but it's aim is to appeal to a wider audience. It does not quite reach five stars for me purely because I was a little disappointed in the ending which I thought was rather unsatisfactory. It is better than four stars so I have to break my rule of not awarding half stars.  A resounding 4.5*

ISBN 978-1-78172-187-2
Published by Seren.

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