Publication Date: 9th April 2015 from Mantle
Source: Advance Reading Copy.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia; the rainy season. When a French man, Hugo Quercy, is found brutally murdered, Commandant Serge Morel finds his holiday drawn to an abrupt halt. Quercy – dynamic, well-connected – was the magnetic head of a humanitarian organisation which looked after the area’s neglected youth.
Opening his investigation, the Parisian detective soon finds himself buried in one of his most challenging cases yet.
So “The Lying Down Room” was one of my favourite debuts of its year, so I was very excited to revisit Serge Morel in the second book in the series – it was absolutely worth the wait, another beautifully written crime novel with a decidedly intriguing main protagonist at the heart of it all.
Here we find Morel on holiday in Cambodia, hoping to reconnect with family, but the brutal murder of a French man finds him thrown into the centre of another mystery. Dealing with the rather eclectic ways of the Cambodian police, local politics and French politices with a distinct lack of resources, this will be a huge challenge.
There are a lot of things to love about this story – not the least of which is the absolutely evocative sense of place Anna Jaquiery brings to her stories. As a snapshot of real life in Cambodia, it is done with a practical eye and a real sense of authenticity that puts you right there with Serge as we see it through his eyes and that of others. There is a beauty and an emotion about it all that pops off the page and gives this a distinct edge when it comes to immersing the reader in the tale being told.
There are some beautifully drawn characters, the mystery itself is intelligent and evocative – this is not so much a rush to judgement or a thrill ride of a tale, but more of a gentle uncovering of the many layers hiding the truth. The lack of resources Morel faces works to give this a more psychological side, this will not be solved by a lucky fingerprint found but by talking to the people involved, knowing them, understanding their motives, feelings and actions. A Russian doll type tale where Morel unlocks one part of Hugo’s life which leads to another then another then eventually to a killer – It is all exquisitely achieved and absolutely addictive.
On top of all that we get some excellent insights into Morel himself as his own story continues, some small peeks back into what is going on in France, so as a book two it works so well, I loved every minute of it and cannot wait to find out what is next.
Overall then a most terrific read. Definitely highly recommended for fans of Literary Crime stories.
You can follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/AnnaJaquiery
Also Available: Read First (Not imperative)
Happy Reading Folks!