From Publishers Weekly
A bestseller in France, this mystery from Chattam (The Soul of Evil) is unlikely to repeat that success in the U.S. After stumbling across a political coverup, Marion, a clerical employee at a Paris morgue, takes refuge in remote Mont-Saint-Michel. There, while inventorying some books, Marion discovers bound within the covers of Poe's Narrative of A. Gordon Pym the diary of an English detective, Jeremy Matheson, describing his probe into a series of sadistic child murders in 1928 Cairo. Marion becomes obsessed with the diary and in finding the solution to the old case. Strangely, the third-person diary selections include the thoughts of characters who could not have conveyed them to Matheson. This oddity will raise the suspicions of astute readers, who will be less than shocked by the twist ending. In that subgenre featuring a modern character who seeks the truth about a past crime through study of a secret document, this effort comes up short.
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This richly atmospheric crime novel tells two stories in parallel. The first concerns Marion, a secretary in the Paris morgue, who inadvertently exposes a scandal that may reach the highest levels of government. The French secret service spirits her off to a safe house near the fabled monastery of Mont St. Michel for her own safety. The second plot element concerns the diary of an English detective in Cairo in 1928. In a time when Egyptian nationalism is on the rise, Detective Jeremy Matheson is investigating the unspeakably brutal murders of four children in the seething Egyptian capital. The crimes are so brutal that many in Cairo fear that a ghul
, a ghoul from Arabic legend, is stalking the city. Marion discovers the diary in the monastery library and begins to read it as a distraction from her own fears, but as she reads, she discovers that Jeremy's investigation has become her obsession. Chatta effectively challenges the reader's ability to discern the nature of truth in this beguiling mix of contemporary and historical mystery. Thomas GaughanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved