IRÈNE by Pierre Lemaitre

Irene Pierre Lemaitre

IRÈNE by Pierre Lemaitre

French crime Novel

Original title –  Travail soigné

Translator – Frank Wynne

Source – from translator

“There is a blessed necessity by which the interest of men is always driving them to the right; and, again, making all crime mean and ugly”
Ralph waldo Emerson from Quote dictionary 

Well I was sent Alex last year and was just on the Verge of reading it when I heard mention it was the second book about commandant Verhoeven .So I thought I’d wait as I had seen on franks website he was doing this the first book in the series .Pierre Lemaitre was born in Paris and had taught literature for many year ,before becoming a novelist .He has described his own work as a permanent “exercise admiration of literature” .He has so far written five books in the Verhoeven series and three stand alone novels one of which won the Prix Goncourt the most respected prize in french lit .

Hardly had he taken three paces into the room than he found himself faced with a scene he could not imagined even in his worst nightmares : severed fingers ,torrents of clotted blood , the stench of excrement and gutted entrails .Instinctively , he was reminded of Goya’s painting ” Satan devouring his son ”

The first crime scene set the tone for the murders .

IRÈNE is the name of commandant Verhoeven’s wife for note , he is happily married and expecting their first child .The title is although t different to the French title which is craftmanship ,but it keeps it in line with the first English translation Alex using similar front cover design .Verhoeven is called into a investigate a series of murders ,Brutal and violent  in their acts , but as they continue the murders appear to be copying famous murders in Novels  from Brett Easton Ellis ,James Ellory  books ,then maybe is the murderer also killing people in other countries ? and in the meantime  the murderer is called by the Press “the Novelist ” .This leads to a cat and mouse came between the commandant and the Novelist that will leave both will suffer as they try to avoid capture and capture drawing them closer and closer to the end  and both leave scared .

Finding IRÈNE hale and healthy ,lying on the sofa watching television , her hands resting on her belly , a broad smile on her lips .Camille realised that since morning his mind has been swirling with images of dismembered women .

His wife is expecting their first child .

Irene is a crime novel that pays Homage to the greats of world crime fiction in the murders that are recreated in the book we move from the murder from American Psycho ,then The black dahlia and Laidlaw ,we see Lemaitre’s  obvious  love of crime fiction in these crimes and how he uses them . But also how it will shape  Verhoeven we see him changed from the beginning of the book  to the end and I expect what happen here makes him a much more interesting character as the series move on in the rest of the series .This isn’t the first crime book that has used a killer that copies crimes there is a book by Jeffrey Deaver that was made into the film The bone collector which feature recreating Victorian crimes from an old crime book .I felt this book better caught the killer in the bone collector it was a little obvious who it was here we see the investigation unfold .

Have you read this book or Alex ?

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MarinaSofia
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 11:58:52

    I was lucky enough to do an interview with Pierre Lemaitre (and I also read and really liked his book about the aftermath of WW1), and I think he is a very clever reader and writer. He takes some quite abstract themes (violence in crime fiction) and presents them in a very readable way, effortless style and enthralling story. I found Alex even more compelling than Irene, so look forward to hearing what you think of it.


  2. naomifrisby
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 13:33:36

    The first quote you’ve chosen from the book makes it sound grim, Stu, but I love American Psycho and James Ellroy’s novels. I’m intrigued. Added to the list.


  3. Guy Savage
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 13:56:54

    While I read a lot of crime books, I’m not that into really gory scenes, so I’m not sure I’d like this.


  4. hastanton
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 14:41:50

    I have read Alex which I quite liked ….but I am not a big crime fiction fan. I did think the character of Insp Verhoeven was v interesting. I think I would prefer his WW1 book ….I read MarinaSofia’s interview of him.


  5. Marie
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 19:33:28

    I’ve recently picked up a copy of Alex from a charity shop, but I didn’t realise it was the second in the series – will have to look into this one to read first! It sounds like something I’d enjoy.


    • MarinaSofia
      Apr 24, 2014 @ 09:59:45

      Yes, the order in which publishers sometimes translate series is mysterious, to say the least. I think they just start with whichever book they think is the most ‘original’ and will whet the appetite, before they commit to translating any more.


    • winstonsdad
      Apr 25, 2014 @ 13:02:19

      Look forward to your thought on alex I hope to get to it in a few weeks


  6. Jen @ Book Scribbles
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 11:50:33

    Another book by a French author I’d recommend is My Wish List: A Novel! It recently came out…you can check out my review here:

    Hands down recommend! One of my favorites this year so far.


  7. N@ncy
    Jul 11, 2014 @ 07:27:28

    Lemaitre is a writer who excels in ‘polars’ and novels. I read both Alex (May 2014) and Au revoir lâ-haut ( Dec 2013) in French. He is one of my favourite writers! ( reviews are on my blog .,..if you are interested.) 🙂 Travail Soigné is the next book to read, thanks for the great review!


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April 2014


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