Pierre Lemaitre is known for writing crime fiction with an alchemical mix of white-knuckle intensity, fearlessly unconventional plotting, and psychologically intricate character development. In Irene Lemaitre ingeniously uses five contemporary and classic literary murder scenes - from William McIlvanney's Laidlaw to Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho - as the framework on which to craft a diabolical prequel to his Crime Writers' Association International Dagger Award-winning novel Alex.
Camille Verhoeven, whose diminutive stature belies his fierce intensity, has reached an unusually content (for him) place in life. He is respected by his colleagues, and he and his lovely wife, Irene, are expecting their first child.
But when a new murder case hits his desk - a double torture-homicide that's so extreme that even the most seasoned officers are horrified - Verhoeven is overcome with a sense of foreboding.
As links emerge between the bloody set-piece and at least one past unsolved murder, it becomes clear that a calculating serial killer is at work. The press has a field day, taking particular pleasure in putting Verhoeven under the media spotlight (and revealing uncomfortable details of his personal life).
Then Verhoeven makes a breakthrough discovery: The murders are modeled after the exploits of serial killers from classic works of crime fiction. The double murder was an exquisitely detailed replication of a scene from Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho, and one of the linked cold cases was a faithful homage to James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia.
The media circus reaches a fever pitch when the modus operandi of the killer, dubbed "The Novelist", is revealed. Worse, the Novelist has taken to writing taunting letters to the police, emphasizing that he will stop leaving any clues behind unless Verhoeven remains on the case.
For reasons known only to the killer, the case has become personal.
©2014 Pierre Lemaitre (P)2015 Hachette Audio
"Quirky, brutal and not for the faint-hearted, it is crime fiction of the highest class.... Superbly constructed and executed, it puts Lemaitre very close to Ellroy's class. If you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down." (Geoffery Wansell, Daily Mail)
"Irene, is... clever, as the diminutive Parisian detective Camille Verhoeven is initially confronted with a murder scene so horrific that it puts him in mind of Goya's Saturn Devouring his Son." (Irish Times)
"[Irene is] hardly predictable, as [Lemaitre] pushes the pulse-quickening plot toward an ingenious-and shocking-finale." (Library Journal)
Maybe this book lost a lot in translation. I could not identify with the characters, and found the story line to be contrived, over the top and melodramic. It lost the sense of suspense with so many cliche characters and predictable plot twists. I read the book 'Alex' by the same author; that book suffered from many of the same flaws. The ending of Alex salvaged the book somewhat, but 'Irene' kept getting worse. The ending was sufficiently stupid, and didn't tie together the sloppy storyline or unbelievable characters. Overall, a real disappointment.
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
First, a Warning: Do NOT read Alex (the 2d in the Verhoeven trilogy, but the first translated and published in the States) before reading this, or even the publisher's Irene-spoiler description of *Alex*. Regretfully, I did; else this review would be longer.
*Irene* is a hyper-intelligent, noir, (quasi-meta) thriller with a quite original (and short) protagonist Commandant.
Second Warning: This novel is not for the weak of stomach or heart.
The characters were great, but the story was too gruesome. The narrator not only read in an extremely affected manner, he made every character sound staggeringly affected. Maybe one person might speak thus, but not the entire cast of characters. I won't go here again, though I'm sorry, since I did like the characters.
I tried to delete this book in just the first chapter but being new to you system audio book I slipped to the last chapter and let this publication, that I give one star due to the filthy language and oppessivre plot line. Sincerely, Scott Duane Troyer
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