After the Crash, Michel Bussi

Want a crime thriller without the major ‘whodunnit’ mystery?

If the answer is yes, then keep reading – if no just keep reading anyway.

If we take a dragonfly, seen on the front cover, to be the jewel amongst the ordinary (and highly irritating) insects found in your average garden, then this is exactly what this book is within the genre of crime fiction.

It is 22nd December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border killing 168 passengers on-board except a three month year old baby girl. The miracle survivor, now an orphan is waiting to be claimed by her family, sounds simple enough right? So what happens when two families step forward to claim her? One family insisting she is Lyse-Rose de Carville, the other Emilie Vitral.

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Cue entrance for detective Crédule Grand-Duc, a man tasked with uncovering the true identity of the miracle baby – nicknamed Lylie as a cross between the Lyse and Emilie – a task that would last eighteen years. On the eve of Lylie’s eighteenth birthday, Crédule looks over his notes on the case and is still no closer to discovering the truth and makes a decision that will rid him of the unsolvable case. However, one document in his investigation holds the key to answering all the questions and loose ends, so what could this document possibly hold and why has it taken eighteen years for Crédule to see the truth which has been hiding right under his nose?

As a reader I found the attention to detail quite remarkable, Bussi’s book is essentially a fictionalised investigation journal of the case, including the aftermath of the crash on two families. By creating such a framework for his novel, Bussi allows time to add vast amounts of detail to every stage of the investigation, (without exceeding 386 pages!) starting from the plane crash itself from the eyes of the plane hostess, leaving little to the imagination to the fates of the 168 passengers. Even eighteen years later when the press have finished reporting on the crash, Bussi provides an insight into how two very different families have learnt to cope with the ambiguous identity of the little orphan, both families have had to make sacrifices during the past eighteen years, one particularly harrowing and disturbing.

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The pace of the book is relentless! This comes from the hunger to find out the truth about Lylie, as the mystery is unique and so it is difficult to guess the ending, at one point I found myself doubting the credibility of the ending, due to how new and refreshing the mystery is. I should say I was not disappointed! Along the way I found myself theorising the outcome, to which I was embarrassingly wrong, I say embarrassing as my dad was the one who recommended the book to me (great recommendation) and I kept telling him these far-fetched theories to which he must have sat there internally laughing at my ridiculous solutions. The characters are relatable, yet as if Bussi has the magical skill to do so, he can make you instantly reverse your initial opinion of a character in one sentence, which happened a lot might I add, showing how Bussi understands and incorporates the complexity of human nature into novel – adding a layer of credibility to the novel, even if the concept seems far-fetched at first glance.

If you’re looking for a new and exciting thriller to read, then this one must jump to the top spot of your reading list. For a summer read that is quick, full of twists and turns, and for those who like short, concise chapters then look no further. I mean (slight spoiler) Bussi manages to make a murder seem uninteresting compared to the quest to find out the true identity of one miraculous survivor, and for a crime thriller that takes skill.

The only criticism I have, is what the heck do I read next?!!

This was the first UK translation of French author Michel Bussi and is available both on Amazon and in Waterstones. Bussi’s new book is called Black Water Lilies and is available on hardback, so watch this space as I shall be reviewing that soon!

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