The Lying Down Room – Anna Jaquiery – review

Mantle

the-lying-down-room-978144724441701

“The first instalment in a stunning debut crime series, set in Paris and featuring Chief Inspector Serge Morel

At night Armand lay in bed with a sadness in his heart that ballooned until there was room for nothing else.

He thought with horror of the lying-down room . . .

Paris; in the stifling August heat, Commandant Serge Morel is called to a disturbing crime scene. An elderly woman has been murdered to the soundtrack of Faure’s Requiem, her body then grotesquely displayed.

At first this strange case seems to offer few clues; and Morel has problems of his own. His father – always a great force in his life – is beginning to succumb to senility; and he is unsettled by the reappearance of the beautiful Mathilde, the woman he once loved. Only origami can help calm the detective and focus his thoughts on this troubling crime.

As the investigation progresses, the key suspects to emerge are a middle-aged man and a mute teenage boy who have been delivering religious pamphlets in the city’s suburbs. But as more elderly ladies are targeted, Morel will find his enquiries leading him back into the past, from the French countryside to Soviet Russia – and to two young boys with the most terrible of stories to tell . . .

An evocative, gripping crime novel with an aching heart: The Lying-Down Room is the stunning first novel in Anna Jaquiery’s Commandant Morel series; perfect for fans of Michael Dibdin and Donna Leon.”

4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and this is my honest opinion of the book.

Paris in August. The locals have left for the summer, leaving the sweltering heat to the tourists and those unlucky enough to not get away. Commandant Serge Morel is one of them, called to a macabre crime scene. An old woman is dead, tucked up tightly in her bed but she looks anything but serene. Soon Morel and his colleagues are on the hunt for a killer who appears to be targeting old women and they must uncover the truth before the killer strikes again.

This is the debut novel by Anna Jaquiery and the first in the Morel series. It will certainly not be last book of Anna’s I read.

There is a darkness that runs throughout the novel, juxtaposing the sweltering heat and sun of August and the romantic setting of Paris. This storyline definitely plays on the emotions. It is difficult to go into details without giving too much away, but the history of the Russian orphanages is part of the story and it this which made this a heart breaking and often enraging read. The mystery itself was engaging. I more often than not gauge ‘who dunnit’ before the reveal but that doesn’t stop me enjoying the protagonists journey on discovering the killer. This can be said for this novel.

I like the host of characters that we meet in this novel. Morel’s boss is narcissistic and could well be on his way to be as annoying as Donna Leon’s Patta from her Guido Brunetti series (of which I am a huge fan). The supporting characters of fellow police officers help round out the story and I look forward to seeing how they develop in future novels. As for Morel I found him to be a flawed and yet somewhat selfless man, who has issues with his past and a strange relationship with his father and his married girlfriend.

I always love discovering new crime series and this is one can’t wait to continue.

 

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