Sunday 20 August 2017

Don't Let Go, by Michael Bussi

A few thoughts on Michael Bussi’s Don’t Let Go

So this is the third of Bussi’s books translated from the French into English, and so far I’ve read them all, in sequence of (translation) publication. My first thoughts when I read Don’t Let Go was that this must be an earlier book of his. It eschews much of the fancy writing techniques that characterized the first two books (After the Crash, Black Water Lilies) - there’s no unreliable narrator, there’s no twist out of the blue, there’s no shuffling of time. On the face of it, this is a relatively straightforward chase thriller set in an exotic location.

Martial Bellion’s wife has disappeared, probably murdered, from their hotel room on Reunion Island. Eyewitnesses say he was in their room for a while, leaving behind blood on the walls and taking along a laundry cart that might have held his wife’s body.

Now he’s on the run, taking along his young daughter, finding ways to escape the island-wide manhunt launched by its entire police force. He certainly acts guilty, but did he really kill his wife? We’ll go through a long series of manhunt-evading maneuvers and counter-moves by the police before we find out.

I read a review a long while back of the movie Terminator 2, which said the movie was basically 4 chase scenes punctuated by dialogue. A similar reduction could be done of this novel. Again and again, Bellion finds a refuge, or seems to be cornered, with the police moving ever closer, and again he manages to slip through the trap. Some of these are made to show off Reunion Island’s scenery and geographical quirks. In between, we have a varied cast of characters digging up details of the case: an ambitious inspector, a sex-crazed deputy, a local “Miss Marple” (a little confused on the role of this Miss Marple, by the way - but I suppose she adds local colour and some tension towards the end).

The ending, let it be said, has no surprises beyond those mandated by the genre. And if there’s a weakness to Bussi, it is a tendency to give happy endings, or at least proper closure, to his leading characters. True, there are a couple of disturbing murders here, but things could have been much, much worse.

This doesn’t mean the book is boring. It moves quickly, there is a constant barrage of twists and facts and revelations, and of course the writing/translation is more than competent. The setting of the novel, and the descriptions of the class structure of the place, are a novelty, but that is about all the novelty there is. It is as if Bussi is aiming for a clean, straight novel that one can read at a sitting. In that motive, he succeeds splendidly. 

No comments:

Post a Comment