Book Review: Don’t Let Go, By Michel Bussi

Publisher:   W & N

Publication date:  27th April 2017

It’s such a pleasure to kick back and settle down with a book from an author who is reliably brilliant; other than knowing you’re in for a treat you have no idea what to expect, as every story has been utterly unique in their presentation, plot, and finale.

Don’t Let Go exceeded my expectations as it’s a cracker of a cunning mystery, nurtured to perfection.

A missing wife, an anxious husband, and their blood-splattered hotel room all point to a grave outcome, but statements from witnesses conflict with the facts. Despite the carnage no body is found, yet no one saw her leave their room after she went inside. The details that emerge suggest premeditated murder but without the evidence of a physical corpse the fate of Liane Bellion cannot be determined, only that she has vanished into thin air.

Ooh, I do love a book like this! The sharp hook of suspense caught me right away!  I was trying to work out scenarios as to why Liane’s husband would casually leave his daughter swimming in the hotel pool after excusing himself to check on his wife, then call the police to report her missing and successfully draw attention to himself as a pattern of erratic behaviour is revealed.

The chronological time stamps included within each chapter were similar to following a live bulletin, while maintaining a flowing story format. This additional level of reality it impresses just how dangerous lost time can be to an investigation of this nature as every what, why, where, and how take a step closer to the husband’s guilt. The police authorities grow restless and overworked, and the prime suspect makes so many illogical moves I was wondering what he could possibly be trying to achieve. Of course it all becomes quite clear. Until then, the island’s residents are speculating, backed up by sources of gossip and details not exchanged with police during interviews. 

Don’t Let Go is a title you can’t fully appreciate until you near the end of a holiday in this vivid Indian Ocean setting, where some of the characters are wishing they most definitely weren’t there. While the frantic race is on to solve a vengeful riddle before the ultimate sacrifice must be made, the diverse heritage of Réunion Island allows its cultural history to blend into the story at just the right intervals. 

Simply superb

Rating: 4.5/5

(I requested a copy of this title from the publisher, via Netgalley. Huge thanks to them for obliging as it is my absolute pleasure to provide an unbiased review for this cracking book.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Picture the scene – an idyllic resort on the island of Réunion. Martial and Liane Bellion are enjoying the perfect moment with their six-year-old daughter. Turquoise skies, clear water, palm trees, a warm breeze…

Then Liane Bellion disappears. She went up to her hotel room between 3 and 4pm and never came back. When the room is opened, it is empty, but there is blood everywhere. An employee of the hotel claims to have seen Martial in the corridor during that crucial hour.

Then Martial also disappears, along with his daughter. An all-out manhunt is declared across the island. But is Martial really his wife’s killer? And if he isn’t, why does he appear to be so guilty?

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(Courtesy of Publisher’s website)

Michel Bussi is the author of the bestsellers After the Crash and Black Water Lilies, both of which were Waterstones Thriller of the Month. In France, where he has published ten novels, he is the second bestselling author overall, with over a million novels sold in 2016 alone, and he has won over sixteen literary awards. When not writing fiction, he is a Professor of Geography at the University of Rouen.

FACEBOOK   |   WEBSITE

My Reviews for this author’s other standalone books:

After The Crash

Black Water Lilies

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Book Review: Black Water Lilies, by Michel Bussi

Publisher: W & N

Publication date:  30th June 2016

Black Water Lilies - My Review

Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi - Kindle CoverObsession and deceit feature heavily in this moody dual-time mystery to create a cleverly plotted literary canvas that is, Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi.

The scene is artfully set from the page one. Layer upon layer, jealousy, regret and resentment are slowly worked into the picture by a bitter widow, who daubs her narration with the introduction of two other females she knows a disturbing amount about. The story encircles the trio who are at different stages of their life: our lonely old woman, the young and cripplingly talented Fanette, and Stephanie, the temptress teacher of art. Living in Giverny, home of Monet’s famous garden, they’ve heard the whispers of the enigmatic masterpieces that some people would do anything to get their hands on. Between them they know a lot of other things too.

Immediately there’s a sense of a hidden agenda, the burden of which has been painfully carried forward into the here and now. Virtually invisible from her vantage point in her old four story mill, the widow shares her observations of the unfortunate events surrounding a murder that bears the hallmarks of a suspicious death that occurred years earlier and her reflections are tinged with bitter emotion.

She has extensive inside knowledge of the claustrophobic village with its long stay residents; their comings and goings, which relationships grow, wither, or expire. She gives the impression that the villagers are merely figures trapped in a landscape that’s been replicated a thousand times.

The widow allows you to see only what she wants you to see, when she wants you to see it. This way she prepares you for the slow, tantalising reveal of a secret known only to the trio. But what specifically drives her to orchestrate things from a safe distance? A craving for drama? Revenge? Surely she would have more important things to consider than watching and waiting, given her own husband’s recent demise?

Also under surveillance and guiding the investigation into blind alleys is the oddest, most inappropriately behaved police chief, who had me convinced he was Inspector Clouseau’s second cousin. I adored the author’s previous book, After The Crash, so I couldn’t wait to get my grabby hands on Black Water Lilies, yet initially I began to wonder what the chuffing point was. There I was going round in frustrating circles when everything came into focus. I could kick myself for how cunning Black Water Lilies had been – the dots were all there, I just hadn’t been joining them!

I bet you’re none the wiser after reading this, are you? Gosh, I’m sorry. I honestly can’t say any more without massively spoiling the overall effect of this tale, except how its vivid imagery and passionate outbursts of village life are strategically staged to achieve maximum impact.

Rating: 4/5

(Huge thanks to the publishers for kindly permitting a digital download of this book, via NetGalley.)

Black Water Lilies - Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Giverny. During the day, tourists flock to the former home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his Water Lilies. But when silence returns, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village.

This is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens. In his pocket is a postcard of Monet’s Water Lilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday.

Entangled in the mystery are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jérôme Morval’s corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious, rumoured painting of Black Water Lilies?

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Black Water Lilies - Author Profile

(Courtesy of publisher’s website)

Michel Bussi is the author of eight bestselling thrillers. In 2013 alone, his books sold half a million copies in his native France. He has won fifteen literary awards, making him one of France’s most prestigious crime authors. When not writing fiction, he is a Professor of Geography at the University of Rouen and a political commentator. Un avion sans elle is his first book to be published in the UK.

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