Review: Pierre LeMaitre – Camille

9780857052773One of the most anticipated books this year, I was delighted when a review copy of Camille by Pierre LeMaitre dropped through my letterbox. It completes the trilogy featuring diminutive detective Commandant Camille Verhoeven. The series has been translated from the French out of order so we began with the second book, Alex, before starting the tragedy of Camille’s personal life with Irene. This is an excellent series. Any of the books can be read as standalones but with Camille, we do get a sense of the detective’s story coming full circle.

It is a series of seemingly random events that leads Anne Forestier to be shot three times in a bungled raid on a jewellers. She is taken to hospital but an attempt is soon made on her life there. For Commandant Verhoeven, it is an echo of a past tragedy when his wife, Irene, was murdered by a killer exacting revenge on Camille. He is determined to protect Anne at all costs but is hampered by the fact that he fails to tell his superiors of his relationship with the victim.

Camille is a dark tale with the detective once more at its heart. It’s the personality of Camille who, as with earlier books, dominates the narrative. It’s a clever ploy to make him physically small because he is a lion at heart and life’s vicissitudes appear to have only made him more determined. It is a difficult book to review because it invites comparisons to the wonderful Alex. I don’t think the story is was ingenious as the previous book but I did prefer it to Irene. I think this was partly the plot. It’s tightly contained and barely gives the reader a chance to consider what is happening.

Fans of the two earlier books will want to read Camille to complete Verhoeven’s tale. I think it’s a greater book than that as it shows how love, mistrust and acceptance aren’t mutually exclusive. And LeMaitre is a beautiful writer. The excellent translation was by Frank Wynne.

The Best of March’s Reading

I read five books in March, all of which were excellent. This isn’t always the case so I’m pleased to see that quality is winning over quantity. I also have some great books lined up for my April reading, including Anya Lipska’s Death Can’t Take a JokeMy crime IMG_0971fiction highlight of the month was attending Anya’s book launch at Daunt Books in Holland Park. Watch this space for the review.

My pick of the month, as you can probably guess from the review, is Irene by Pierre Lemaitre. Although breathtaking in its violence, it is also highly original and is shaping up to be my book of the year. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The five books I read for Crimepieces were:

1. Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

2. Irene by Pierre Lemaitre

3. I Can See in the Dark by Karin Fossum

4. Scarred by Thomas Enger

5. Emperors Once More by Duncan Jepson