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Sandrine's Case [Format Kindle]

Thomas H. Cook

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Thomas H. Cook offers one of his most compelling novels ever in Sandrine's Case, in which a college professor falls in love with his wife all over again...while on trial for her murder.

Samuel Madison always wondered what Sandrine saw in him. He was a meek, stuffy doctorate student, and she a brilliant, beautiful, bohemian with limitless talents and imagination. On the surface their relationship and marriage semed perfectly tranquil: jobs at the same small, liberal arts college, a precocious young daughter, a home filled with art and literature, and trips to some of the world's most beautiful cities and towns. And then one night Sandrine is found dead in their bed and Samuel is accused of her murder.

As the truth about their often tumultuous relationship comes to light, Samuel must face a town and media convinced of his guilt, a daughter whose faith in her father has been shaken to its core, and astonishing revelations about his wife that make him fall in love with her for a second time. A searing novel about love lost and rediscovered, from one of our greatest chroniclers of the human heart.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1011 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 354 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0802126081
  • Editeur : Mysterious Press (6 août 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°146.565 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  120 commentaires
28 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A different take on courtroom fiction 6 août 2013
Par TChris - Publié sur Amazon.com
There are few novelists of intrigue I admire as much as Thomas Cook. Whether he's writing a spy story, a crime novel, or a courtroom drama, his approach is unconventional. Tension derives not from action but from the intense probing of his characters' lives. In Sandrine's Case, Cook uses a criminal trial to reveal not just the facts underlying a death, but the mind and soul of the accused, an unfeeling man who (his wife once said) is composed of scar tissue.

Sam Madison, an English professor at a liberal arts college in a small Georgia town, had a terrible argument with his wife Sandrine, a history professor at the same institution. He is accused of killing her and of attempting to disguise the murder as suicide. The evidence against him is circumstantial: a "sinister research history" on his computer; his role in obtaining the Demoral that killed her; the antihistamines in Sandrine's blood; a broken cup; a parody Sam wrote of noir fiction; "a silence when I should have spoken, a question I should have asked but hadn't." Sandrine had recently been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, a condition that (according to the prosecutor) furnished Sam's motive: it was easier to kill than to face years serving as a caretaker, feeding and bathing his helpless wife. Sam fears that the jurors will despise him because he is an intellectual living a privileged life, but the most damning evidence against him are the words Sandrine spoke to her friends about Sam's detached, isolated nature. Sam is, according to Sandrine, a sociopath (or so she said in the last words she spoke to him), and he knows his "cold perhaps even haughty demeanor" is not playing well with the jury. He has good reason to fear that the trial has become a referendum on his marriage, that he will be punished for being a distant, uncaring husband.

The ultimate mystery in Sandrine's Case is not what Sam did or did not do, but whether Sam is correct in certain suspicions he begins to harbor about Sandrine. Since Sandrine's Case is told in the first person from Sam's perspective, it obviously isn't a whodunit. Sam feels enormous guilt, but for much of the novel his precise role in Sandrine's death is unclear. Was he possessed, after twenty years of sharing a home with his wife and daughter, to murder Sandrine, despite his belief that "no man had ever been loved by a more worthy woman"? As Sam slowly disintegrates -- thinking about the testimony of the witnesses at his trial, reliving the police interrogations, recalling (in bits and pieces) his life with Sandrine -- he begins, perhaps for the first time, to understand himself, to come to terms with his deep sense of failure, a judgment he "put on everyone else," particularly Sandrine, because he feared to judge himself. The testimony of witnesses teaches Sam what Sandrine really thought of him, and seeing himself through Sandrine's eyes is a revelatory experience.

Sam describes Sandrine's academic writing as "graceful and carefully measured," a description that applies equally to Cook's prose. Sam, who laments "what a low culture we have now," has never read a crime novel (unless you count Crime and Punishment or other works of literary genius). If he were to do so, Sandrine's Case would be a good place to start. Cook's insight into his characters and his elegant prose are undeniably the stuff of quality literature, yet he (unlike Sam, whose failed novel became more academic with each rewrite) never fails to tell a compelling story. There might be more courtroom theatrics in a Grisham novel, but there is more bare honesty, more heart, in Sandrine's Case than you'll find in a dozen Grishams. It is a strangely redemptive, life-affirming story about death, a decidedly different take on courtroom fiction, but in its own quiet way, a small masterpiece.
17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A simple premise made of extremely complex layers and gorgeous prose 13 août 2013
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Thomas H. Cook is an author's author. He has amassed an enviable bibliography comprised of books that prove his love of language and his ability to quietly and surgically slice into lives and personalities. While his novels are considered to fall under the classification of crime fiction, he defies some of the elements of that genre while never eschewing a literary tone. It is telling that after more than three decades and close to 30 books, Cook's latest effort features some of his best prose.

SANDRINE'S CASE is built upon a relatively simple premise constructed with extremely complex layers. A husband calls the police, stating that he has just arrived at home and found his wife dead, the victim of an apparent suicide. After an investigation, though, the husband is charged with first-degree murder and goes on trial. Have we seen this before? Absolutely, but the plot contains several fascinating variations on this theme. The husband and wife in question are Sandrine and Samuel Madison, professors at a small and undistinguished college for over two decades. Sandrine is popular with the faculty and students and, indeed, with the townspeople of Coburn, a small and closely held city less than a hundred miles from Atlanta.

Samuel is not especially liked or likable; one gets this impression almost from the beginning of the book, which is narrated in the first person by Samuel himself. It is but one example of Cook's quiet genius that the reader can get the sense almost immediately that Samuel was not always so unlikable, and indeed we eventually learn that such is the case as the story unfolds over 10 days. Samuel has a defense attorney who is self-styled as "the smartest Jew lawyer in Coburn County," but seems to think that his own client might be guilty of the crime with which he is charged. Sandrine had reason to commit suicide, which interestingly enough is part of the alleged motive that Samuel supposedly had for murdering her.

As the book proceeds, one wonders what the deceased --- outgoing, intelligent, stunningly beautiful, capable of spouting obscure yet brilliant quotations while creating many of her own --- saw in her cold fish husband, whom she labelled a sociopath on the night of her death. We eventually learn exactly what it was that attracted Sandrine to Samuel, who looks down on practically everyone around him with a casual coldness that had invaded his home as well.

Still, Samuel is not without redeeming social value. One of his few acquaintances ("friend" would be too strong a word) is a next-door neighbor who owes much to Samuel, a debt that can never be truly repaid as a result of an impulsive, selfless, and yes, brave act that Samuel committed years before. And then there is Alexandria, Sandrine and Samuel's daughter, who seems to have taken the best of her mother's personality but is a step away from estrangement from her father. Such a thing perhaps would be more than he could bear, yet the danger of it arises from much more than the murder charges that have been brought against him; if he is exonerated, it still may not save him at home.

SANDRINE'S CASE is loaded with quiet metaphor and shot through with turns of phrase that would fill a small notebook on their own. It can be read in one sitting, though you will be tempted to rush through it. Still, I suggest reading it slowly, taking in its nuances and perhaps even re-reading it after finishing, just to enjoy how Cook so carefully constructed it.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
19 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 "You're the victim in this case, Sam. Don't forget that." 23 juillet 2013
Par Fairbanks Reader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Sandrine's Case by Thomas Cook is an interesting novel about the death of a 46 year-old woman named Sandrine. Was it suicide or was she murdered by her husband Sam? The novel's structure is in the form of a courtroom drama and takes place on each day of the trial with each witness testifying for or against the accused. During the course of the trial, Sam reminisces about Sandrine and their original meeting and love affair, the early days of their marriage and Sandrine's personality. He also considers the last days of her life and the awful fight they had before she died.

Sandrine loved words and was an astute grammarian. She had a tender side and originally had a dream of opening a school for poor children in Africa. During the course of years, her dreams died as she taught at Coburn College, a small liberal arts college in Georgia, the same school where Sam taught.

While the trial is taking place, Sam is asked to resign his tenured professorship because of the negative publicity his trial will bring the college. If he doesn't resign, the president is prepared to fire him.

I found the book rather long and it meandered just a bit too much for me to be completely vested in it. I found the characters interesting but not to the point of wanting to pick the book up all the time. I enjoyed the metaphors, quotes from other authors and the characterization of Sandrine. She came alive more than any other character. I have read other books by Thomas Cook and have loved them. This is not one of his strongest novels.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Like watching a 1930's movie 28 septembre 2013
Par David - Publié sur Amazon.com
Cook has received numerous Edgar nominations, so I was surprised how boring and unengaging this book was. The Amazon summary covers the plot well. It reminded me of lesser 1930's films where the acting was very shallow, the action very slow and the characters seemed very unrealistic.

The device of framing the action through a trial also seemed retro and served little purpose and added scant drama--and I have a great weakness for good courtroom dramas.

Without giving spoilers, the climactic scenes seemed far-fetched.

This would have been better as a short story. I thought he had a well-meaning message to send about relationships, but took much too long to deliver it and, just as I have trouble with cardboard superhuman action heroes (Jack Reacher, etc), I found these stereotypes of 2 professors unconvincing.

Obviously, personal tastes vary tremendously; given that he is a veteran writer, I encourage readers to sample the book and draw their own conclusions.
18 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 ****Spoiler***** 17 janvier 2014
Par JaeJ - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Do not read any further if you don't want to know the ending of this book!

First, let me start by saying I have been an admirer of Thomas Cook's novels for over 20 years. I have long since forgotten the first Cook novel I read, but I distinctly remember the gorgeous prose, the impeccable plotting, the characters who drew you, sometimes against your will. Although I could ill afford it back in those days, I bought all Thomas Cook books in hardback as soon as they came out, knowing I would want it in my personal library to read again. Thomas Cook and Jonathan Kellerman :)

Lately though -- over the last half dozen books or so, I feel as if I'm reading the same book, just told from slightly different perspectives. Typically, a man, haunted by some unknown past, finds himself into a situation where he walks himself from where he is now -- where he ended up -- to what brought him to this point. I have to admit that, in most instances, I end up feeling a little cheated. Cook's prose is, of course, beautifully haunting and nearly always at least comes close to making the read worthwhile. But I'm bored with these interior monologues broken only sporadically by the world around the narrator. There are only so many ways you can write the same story, after all. And really, the only thing that changes is the crime or human stain that each protagonist discovers about himself.

So, I hesitated before buying 'Sandrine's Case,' not wanting to be disappointed again. But ... I finally gave in, and have to say that disappointment does not even begin to describe how I feel about this book. First of all, the dead woman Sandrine, with whom Cook clearly believes we should sympathize -- is meant to be beautiful, intelligent and far more perceptive about the narrator than he himself is. However, she does not come off to the reader as Cook expects her to (this is really Cook's weak point; writing about women. Real women. Not some idealized version of woman, constantly pursued, and constantly vanishing, but real flesh and blood woman, who love, who more attractive to some men than others and completely okay with that, women who are good people, but make mistakes. who work at jobs they sometimes love and sometimes hate -- women as people, rather than symbols or myths). Personally, I disliked Sandrine from the first. Ironically, Cook's narrator, Sam, obviously expects us to see her as he does -- clearly superior to nearly everyone around her in every way -- beauty, intelligence, perception, kindness -- yet she comes across not only as one-dimensional, but mean as well.

Parsimonious with her praise or even with words that might initiate the conversation she so clearly wants, unforgiving because her husband fails to react as she believes he should, and, finally, simply insufferable in every way. A woman obsessed with Cleopatra and the asp that killed her, which is fitting for a character who presents herself to this reader, at least, as such a snake. Which is not to say that Sam does not have faults, which -- in true Thomas Cook fashion -- he spends a great deal of the book thinking about, musing on, stringing incident after incident together before rushing to an epiphany. An epiphany with which he clearly agrees.

And that is death. The incomparable Sandrine, faced with the prospect of ALS has killed herself. Or has she? Right from the start, the police are suspicious. Sam does not call an attorney because he is shocked by his wife's suicide and initially trying to help. Except the police arrest Sam and the book opens with his trial. No forensic evidence, not even a surety that it is not suicide and it is a capital case. Hmmmm. Okay. I can suspend belief I guess. Except Cook just forces you to suspend reality far too many times.

Because -- shades of "Presumed Innocent!" -- Sandrine has set Thomas up for her own suicide! Gasp! Of course, the reader realizes this about 100 pages before Sam does. Sam, you see, had an affair. So perhaps Sandrine is a woman scorned and all that. But there is no evidence that Sandrine ever knew about the affair, and the reader realizes instinctively that Cook would not allow us to think that such a magnificent woman as Sandrine would ever be driven by such a shoddy, pedestrian motive.

No, the truth is much more suitable for a woman of such passion, such beauty, such kindness. You see, Sam was sad when he met Sandrine. Over nothing in particular, sad in a general way, the way grad students often are. Sandrine liked Sam when he was sad. She felt, you see, it was his kindness that made him sad. I'd add that this correlation between sadness and kindness that Sandrine draws is also a bit odd. Sad people are often unkind. While it was obviously meant to apply only to Sam, Cook never explains why Sam is a saint when he's sad and a monster when he's a cynic. Certainly none of his actions would suggest this to be true. So it is an incomplete thesis that is just left out there hanging around, as if Cook is hoping one of his readers can figure out the correlation and let him know what it is as well. There are some things that authors deliberately withhold from their readers, but the underlying thesis of book should never be one of those things, IMO.

Anyway, they marry and they teach at a small private college together, a college that Sandrine picked because it was Sam's only job offer although she herself was turning down prestigious offers from Ivy League and other big name universities left and right (suspend belief again. If you've read the book, you'll be as puzzled as I over the discrepancy in job offers. It appears -- sorry, Mr. Cook, to be laziness on the author's part. He needed it to be so for the plot and so it happens without explanation). Now over the years, Sam has become something of a cynic, which troubles Sandrine. You see, he wasn't sad anymore. He wasn't happy either, but he wasn't sad as Sandrine felt he should be.

She didn't think he looked sad enough when she told him that she had ALS. In typical Cook protagonist style, Sam spent hours, days thinking of this and realizing that she was right and he really didn't look sad. Moreover, he wasn't that sad about it - he was more in shock. But there is no room in Sandrine's world for anything other than complete anguish. And certainly, one does expect one's spouse of twenty or twenty five years to show some sorrow at such news, although I do think shock is an appropriate reaction, especially for a couple who have grown as far apart Sam and Sandrine have.

So, the bottom line. Sam is on trial for his very life -- remember this is a capital case. As it turns out, Sandrine set him up to die because he used to be sad and he wasn't anymore. This is whole point of the novel. Oh you can add your interpretations, read into all you want, This is the bottom line. Sandrine felt he would be better dead than not sad. If this sounds preposterous, believe me it is. It was preposterous reading it and realizing where it was going. And then, after several hundred painful pages of personal psychoanalysis, Sam comes to believe that Sandrine was absolutely right. He refuses to mount a defense and is surprised when the jury doesn't convict him. Because he's not sad enough, you see, and according to Sandrine, this makes him a sociopath (her last words to him). And, Sam decides she is right.

Personally, I think Cook lost control of Sandrine early on. Instead of the queen of hearts, he wound up with a monster. A quarter of the way into the book, I thought to myself Sandrine was furious that Sam -- inferior to her in every way, as Sam reminds us repeatedly, is going to be walking the earth, long after it has swallowed her. I'd also question why, after twenty five years of marriage, does Sam still think he's unworthy of Sandrine? That in itself, suggests that one or more party had an agenda in keeping that status quo. Cui bono? Who benefits if Sam worships the ground Sandrine walks on? Hint: Not Sam.

Sandrine set Sam up in the most public way: he lost his job and even an acquittal ruined his life -- there would always be questions, even by those who loved him. His own daughter questioned his innocence. While Sandrine ruined his life in the most public way possible, Sam refuses to allow his attorney to use the very compelling evidence that Sandrine had set him up because he doesn't want her to appear less than perfect to her family, including her daughter. These are the characters I am getting so tired of. With Sam, Cook takes self-righteous, self sacrifice to an entirely higher and wholly unbelievable level. With Sam, Cook's guy's have begun wallowing as much they are expounding, which is really as unpleasant to read as that sentence was to write.

So, after Sam's acquittal, he and his daughter go open a school in some African Country where there apparently isn't the slightest possibility of not being sad, and thus kind. At any rate, now we see, from Sam's perspective, that Sandrine saved Sam from a life that was not defined by sadness, although he appreciates that she did her best to kill him to do so. Not sarcasm. Sam truly understands that it must have cost Sandrine terribly to kill him because he wasn't sad enough. How she must have loved him! This is not a joke, believe it or not -- and, looking at all the four and five stars this book has engendered, there will be many people who disagree with me -- but it is not even that oversimplified, if we're being honest with ourselves.

Please, Thomas Cook, if you're going to ask me to suspend belief for a few hours, can you give me another novel like the incomparable "Fate of Katherine Carr?" Or, if we're going to read about some guy's soul searching and agonizing for hours, then please, at least, give us another "Red Leaves," the award-winning novel of a father's agony that presents the reader with a horrified compassion and understanding of his guilt and his life forever altered, forever ruined. It is amazing to me to that the same man who wrote these incredibly strong, incredibly moving novels (and so many more) would also offer up something like 'Sandrine's Case."

I look forward to the next Thomas Cook, with hopefulness that this master novelist gives us another one of his incredible un-put-downable works. Please, enough tortured men with their endless ruminations, regrets, and repentance. At least for awhile? I know Cook doesn't do serials, but I would love a continuation of the 'Katharine Carr' book -- a standalone novel that takes up where the next character -- the one that follows Geoge Gates for those who have read the book -- starts his storytelling to his handpicked audience. Shivers!
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