Graeme Macrae Burnet

The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau

"..Burnet has completely nailed the tone, colour and sly wit.."


Manfred Baumann is a loner. Socially awkward and perpetually ill at ease, he spends his evenings quietly drinking and surreptitiously observing Adele Bedeau, the sullen but alluring waitress at a drab bistro in the unremarkable small French town of Saint-Louis. But one day, she simply vanishes into thin air.

When Georges Gorski, a detective haunted by his failure to solve one of his first murder cases, is called in to investigate the girl's disappearance, Manfred's repressed world is shaken to its core and he is forced to confront the dark secrets of his past.

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The central conceit of this novel is that the 'book' is a found manuscript, translated from the French by the author, Burnet. I am not an expert on modern literature coming from the other side of the channel, but I have read a few of their crime novels and I found that Burnet has completely nailed the tone, colour and sly wit that I enjoyed so much from the 'real' French authors. It's a novel that takes its time to tell its story, so not one for the plot hungry among you, but certainly one for those who enjoy a more measured and cultured read. The main character, Manfred Baumann is beautifully and convincingly drawn and the quiet battle of wits between him and the investigating detective is a joy to watch as it unfolds. But it is Manfred you are drawn back to time and again as a terrible event in his past weighs down on him. With a hat tip to the author's skill, I realised that I was hugely engaged in his character's internal struggle and found myself praying that he would find some peace and not disintegrate before my eyes. To discover if he manages to do that, you'll need to buy the book. This is a perfect little tale that is as smooth as a fine wine.

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