Pierre Lemaitre

Alex was an excellent detective thriller, with more than one suprising plot twist. In fact, I’m having a hard time writing a review with no spoilers because the plot twists are so major. I’ll do my best, but trust me, the book is better than my review makes it sound.

There are three major crime segments in Alex. Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven is the driving force in investigating all of them. First of all, a young woman named Alex is kidnapped, jammed into a wooden crate so small she cannot stretch or lie down, and suspended from a rope in an abandoned warehouse. When Commandant Camille does manage to find her kidnapper, he dies before telling police anything; leaving Alex with no food or water, at the mercy of the rats.
Next, Commandant Camille is trying to solve a series of murders where victims were killed by having acid poured down their throats. He feels the killings are of a sexual nature, but others are skeptical; and when a woman turns up among the victims, it seems Camille is wrong.
Finally, there is a suicide, which might just be a murder. Commandant Camille finally uncovers the original crime at the root of all these deaths and unravels the twisted thread tying all these horrible crimes together.

The crimes, the murders, the plot twists- those are enough to make this book a page-turner. But Commandant Camille Verhoeven is the real stand-out of the story. A short man with a big ego and a kitten named Doudouche, Camille is neurotic and briliant as we expect our best fictional detectives to be. He is understandably reluctant to take on the Alex case, having lost his own wife and unborn child in a kidnapping gone wrong. Solving the case requires confronting his own inner demons.
If Lemaitre had just stopped at Commandant Camille, this would have been a good enough detective thriller. But he goes on to surround Camille with a cast of characters that are compelling on their own. Louis is Camille’s former partner, reunited with him to solve this crime. The two of them communicate in a way that only long-term coworkers can. Le Guen is Camille’s boss, who forces him to take the Alex case. The author describes them as being like an old married couple- they fight but understand each other perfectly. Armand is another coworker, who initially provides comic relief for desciptions of what a miser he is. But it turns out maybe he has a generous heart. Together, these police officers form a team with depth and color around Commandant Camille.

Alex is being sold as the first book in the Commandant Camille Verhoeven trilogy. I hope they hurry up and translate the others from French,  because I can’t wait to read them. I want another detectice thriller with this kind of fast-paces writing and unexpected twists. I also want to read more about Commandant Camille and his team!


You might like: The Bat, Nesbo. The Abomination, Holt. Any of the Deleware/Sturgis novels by Kellerman.