19 July 2016

Review #489: Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi



My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.”

----Claude Monet



Michel Bussi, a French award-winning author, has penned a gut-wrenching and extremely intriguing crime thriller, Nympheas Noirs that has been translated into English by Shaun Whiteside and the English title is called, Black Water Lilies. The mystery revolves around a rich doctor's murder that occurred near Monet's famous garden in Giverny, that leads the detective to stumble upon the most beautiful woman of the village, while in the background, a little girl is trying to follow on the footsteps on Claude Monet to recreate his famous water lilies painting, and also an old female widow is managing pretty well to unfold the puzzling mystery with the help of her dog.


Synopsis:

Giverny. During the day, the home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his waterlilies. But once the tourists have gone, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village.

This is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens. In his pocket is a postcard of Monet's Waterlilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday.

Entangled in the mystery are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jérôme Morval's corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious, rumoured painting of Black Waterlilies?



13 days ago,
The book opens with a nameless narrator's account of a murder that occurred in her village named Giverny near Monet's garden. The detective, assigned to the case, soon figures out the identity of the man who has been murdered as a rich doctor of the village with a passion and keen eye for both art and women. The detective begins his investigation on the pretext that some jealous lover must have taken his life, but as the clues started building up that leads him and his team on the door step of the most charming woman of the village who works as a school teacher, Stephanie. Unfortunately Stephanie's eye has caught the charm and beauty of the new detective in the village, little did that detective knew that there is a young eleven year old girl named, Fannette, is trying to recreate Monet's famous painting of water lilies in her own way just to enter one of the prestigious art competition that will earn her a ticket out of this dead end village, where tourists arrive like a flock of birds during the season, yet there are some villagers who want to escape it.

13 days later,
Fannette must enter this competition no matter what and there is nothing to worry when her special friend Paul supports him with all his heart. But there is someone who will do everything to stop Fannette from entering this competition. Even murder....

Once again, Michel Bussi, created magic with this book, where I'm left with no words to describe or express my feelings towards this book, as it is so irresistible beyond my own imagination, I mean, how can someone create something so addictive yet dark, just like a deadly drug? The author is a true genius when it comes to crime thrillers, even his previous book, After the Crash was a captivating thriller.

Let's begin from the first page, where I was greeted with three characters, and all through out the last murder, I could not guess the author's triumph card, meaning major mind-twisting turnout. And then let's get to the end, which is provocatively dark with a twist of long, lost romance, that make me feel nostalgic. So you can see that this time too, the author has concocted his thriller on the background of a sweet, innocent yet forbidden love story.

The author's writing style is superlative and very much layered with cleverly plotted twists and unexpected turns that the readers can never guess it out, but mainly the main twist in the story plays a game-changing role in the story. The narrative style is engaging and free-flowing like a clear stream and right from the start the readers will be allured to the heart of the story to stay hooked to the story line. The pacing is swift and the readers will easily sway with the course of this story that develops like a never ending maze.

The character development is really strikingly done complete with realism and authenticity in the character's demeanor. The main character, the nameless narrator, is an old lady who is also a widow and lives in a dilapidated house near Monet's garden from where she gets a clear view to the murder and the little girl painting near the stream. Her voice is strong and bewitching and the readers will instantly lose themselves in her story telling. Her mind unreels the actions quite vividly like it is occurring right before my own eyes. Then, there's the little girl, Fannette, whose determination towards art and painting is inspiring yet her innocence will make the readers fall for her. The rest of the supporting characters are also quite well developed and will leave an impression in the minds of the readers.

The backdrop captured by the author is vivid and bright, as the author paints a fascinating and beautiful landscape of Giverny with his eloquent words, and the descriptions are so striking, that the readers will be forced to transport to this evocative location through their minds' eyes and experience the aura of this attractive village where the real life painter, Claude Monet himself, was tempted to recreate it in his colors and imagination. The author has smartly captivated the French essence and flair of the local environment, its people, and its conservative culture.

In a nutshell, I'm really glad that I got to read this interesting as well as enthralling thriller that surely kept me turning the pages of this book frantically till the very end.

Verdict: Must read for all the crime lovers, that evokes the sense and essence of a particular location quite strongly through it's prose.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author's, Michel Bussi, publicist from Hachette, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.
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Author Info:
Michel Bussi is one of France's most celebrated crime authors. The winner of more than 15 major literary awards, he is a professor of geography at the University of Rouen and a political commentator. After the Crash, his first book to appear in English, will be translated into over twenty languages.
Visit him here



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