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Alex is book two in the Camille Verhoeven series by Pierre LeMaitre. The author is a French novelist and Screenwriter and, I believe, is very popular in France. European books are something I’m very curious about but since I’m limited myself to Scandinavian authors I thought I’d expand my horizons by reading a French book that isn’t a classic. I spotted this on Simon’s (Savidge Reads) booktube channel and he raved so much about it that I grabbed it immediately. Now don’t misunderstand me when I say failed to be impressed, it was a 3-3.5 star for me. Just not as amazing as others, mostly men, seem to think it is. The story was honestly horrifying, especially the reasons and the past that I felt nauseous for the most part.

WRITING & STORY

The writing is a little dry, not at all like the fast paced American thrillers that I am used to. It also gives you a very deep insight into the detectives and the victims, their characters, the horror they’ve gone through and everything in between. Unfortunately, while I usually adore that, in this case it didn’t work as well because of the characterisation of the main detective.

The story switches from POV to POV, from Alex to Verhoeven, each one giving away more clues that aren’t really clues. While the detective chapters are mostly him musing about his life and getting angry at witnesses and other detectives, the Alex chapters are really interesting and heartbreaking. Though I must say I find the explanation to be unbelievable….I’m no scientist but shouldn’t she have died ages ago? I don’t want to discuss that but just wanted to put it out there.

CHARACTER

As I mentioned before, I’m not impressed with our Detective. Yes this has all the usual clichés that a detective story normally has. Something, maybe a physical defect, that sets the detective apart from his other “normal” looking coworkers, a past that makes cases difficult for him yet he somehow pulls through at the end. The only way this was any different is that the detective isn’t actually that competent. He seemed to mostly be playing the guessing game and arguing with superiors for god knows what reason because at the end both of them are wrong. Granted, at the “climax” the detective managed to unravel the whole thing but I have no clue how he did it and there isn’t much believability because form the beginning he seems rather….incompetent.

In comparison, Alex is brilliant. She’s not all that she seems and it slowly unravels to reveal an ending which, in a way made the book both worse and better. Her contemplations and methods of protecting herself are intriguing and you end up in complete awe of her and feeling terribly sorry for her.

This was so hyped for me that I think it was the biggest reason I failed to be impressed by it. I rated this high because I think I just didn’t get the big deal. Honestly, I wouldn’t be picking up any other books by the author and I won’t be rereading this. It’s too horrifying!

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In kidnapping cases, the first few hours are crucial. After that, the chances of being found alive go from slim to nearly none. Alex Prévost – beautiful, resourceful, tough – may be no ordinary victim, but her time is running out. Commandant Camille Verhoeven and his detectives have nothing to go on: no suspect, no lead, rapidly diminishing hope.

All they know is that a girl was snatched off the streets of Paris and bundled into a white van. The enigma that is the fate of Alex will keep Verhoeven guessing until the bitter, bitter end. And before long, saving her life will be the least of his worries.

Available for purchase on Flipkart, Amazon India, book Depository and Wordery.

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