A good start to the series…
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Set in Paris, this thriller from Peter May is the first to feature forensic scientist Enzo Macleod. A Scot now living in Cahors in France, Enzo takes on a bet with some friends that, using new scientific methods of detection, he will be able to solve the mystery of the disappearance a decade earlier of brilliant university teacher Jacques Gaillard. What starts as an interesting intellectual puzzle soon turns into a full-blown thriller as Enzo begins to uncover a conspiracy involving some of the elite of French political and academic life.
While all the standard elements of the thriller are here – clues, conspiracies, chases, danger – what raises Peter May’s novels above the average is the sense of place he conveys, based on what is clearly meticulous research. This book takes us on a journey through France and each place is described with a deft touch that lets us get to know it without being overwhelmed by unnecessary detail. Much of the book is set in Paris and, while showing us the city that any tourist will recognise, May also goes deeper, giving us insights into the workings of the structures and systems that produce the top people in government and commerce. He also uses his fine descriptive writing and eye for detail to paint a vivid picture of the catacombs that exist beneath the city.
As often happens in the first of a series, it took some time for all the characters to be introduced and for their back-stories to be filled out and this made the early part of the book a little slow. I also felt that sometimes the way Enzo was able to work out the clues in the plot seemed a bit too easy – coincidence came into play a little too often. I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as I did May’s China thrillers or his most recent and excellent Lewis trilogy, but nonetheless I thought it was a good read with engaging characters that certainly encouraged me to go on and read the next in the series.
NB This book has also been published under the title Extraordinary People.