Rating: 4 Cups of Coffee
Buenos Aires, 1987. When a beautiful young woman named Lisandra is found dead at the foot of a six-story building, her husband, a psychoanalyst, is immediately arrested for her murder. Convinced of Vittorio’s innocence, one of his patients, Eva Maria, is drawn into the investigation seemingly by chance. As she combs through secret recordings of Vittorio’s therapy sessions in search of the killer—could it be the powerful government figure? the jealous woman? the musician who’s lost his reason to live?—Eva Maria must confront her most painful memories, and some of the darkest moments in Argentinian history.
If you read and loved "Gone Girl" or "The Girl on the Train," "The Case of Lisandra P." may be for you. While originally published in 2013, it was recently translated into English -- I'm assuming to keep up with a demand for psychologically thrilling novels like the ones mentioned in the previous sentence. Whatever the reason may be, I'm glad it was translated so I could eventually devour it in one three-hour plane ride.
The premise of the book keeps in line with the psychological thriller trend: a girl is murdered, her husband is accused, he says he's innocent...you know the rest. It sounds familiar because it is, but Hélène Grémillon takes this overused plot and turns it into more than just a mystery of "who killed Lisandra Puig?" While I was first drawn into the novel by the initial mystery surrounding Lisandra's murder, I stayed for the lessons in a dark Argentinian history I had never known and Grémillon's writing style that goes beyond the mainstream -- the sentences without punctuation that make you really pay attention to a character's thoughts, sheet music and lyrics that give you insight into their motives, and more.
I loved the way that Eva Maria, a grieving mother and one of Vittorio Puig's patients, becomes a pseudo-investigator on this case after the Argentinian police show clear negligence and corruption. The way she carries her daughter's disappearance with her -- a result of the horrible period of Argentinian history known as the "Dirty War" -- throughout her investigation into Lisandra's murder weaves together motives of past and present to create a vivid picture of the Argentina this story is set in. Eva Maria's investigation follows the pattern of one step forward, two steps back throughout the novel, but eventually she makes connections no police would have thought of, connections that have you rooting for her yet also scared for her.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was thrilling and well-written with a pace that kept you reading for hours. I knocked off one cup of coffee for one reason, though: the ending. I didn't dislike it, but to me it seemed to come completely out of nowhere. I guess that's what a twist ending is supposed to do, but this one was so unrelated to the rest of the novel it threw me off a bit, so I couldn't really connect with it. It wasn't a bad ending; it just seemed like an ending that tried too hard to be surprising. I'd recommend you read it for yourself and come to your own opinion, though. It's well worth the read.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hélène Grémillon was born in 1977. She has degrees in literature and history and was a broadcast and press journalist before becoming a full-time writer. The Confidant is her first novel. She lives in Paris with her partner, singer and songwriter Julien Clerc, and their child.