Extraordinary People by Peter May

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Extraordinary People by Peter May

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: This is the first of a new series of books featuring a Scottish forensic scientist resident in France. It's a swashbuckling romp but might put you in mind of The da Vinci Code without the religion. Extraordinary People is a reasonable read and might be one to watch for the future.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 344 Date: November 2006
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 1590583353

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It's ten years since Jacques Gaillard disappeared. He'd been an advisor to the French Prime Minister and latterly he taught at the école Nationale d'Administration, better known as ENA, where France's brightest and best are trained to become its future leaders. Enzo Macleod takes on a bet that he can solve the mystery of the disappearance and what follows is a fast-paced romp though France as Enzo and friends uncover various body parts of the unfortunate Gaillard and clues as to where they might find the next bit of the body and yet more clues.

Even the publishers concede that you just might be thinking da Vinci Code. I'd go a step further and say that you should definitely think da Vinci Code. It's not the Holy Grail that's in everyone's sights, but a body and the trail takes the reader through the Paris catacombs, a chateau in Champagne and various other parts of rural France. Along the way there are the regulation murderous attacks and narrow escapes. Thrown in for good measure are a couple of rather uninspired sex scenes, with our hero being sucked dry and left limp and spent.

If you can get past the thought that this is rather like a poor man's da Vinci Code without religion it's actually quite an entertaining story. The word 'swashbuckling' sprang to mind on more than one occasion. The plot's neat and quite intricate but you might have to suspend belief that some of the clues could be solved by people little older than school children. It does prove though that so much information is now available to everyone via the internet which simply wouldn't have been accessible to even a few people ten years ago. Google plays a major part in the story and if it was capable of driving a car and having sex it could well have been the hero. Sometimes I thought the information came too easily, but that's me being Mistress Picky. I've known Google to fight back when I'm looking for something.

Enzo is endearing. He's a Scot who left his wife and family in Glasgow for the love of a young woman who then did the indecent thing of dying in childbirth and leaving him with a daughter to bring up on his own. There's perhaps just a little too much of the author in Enzo Macleod, with his long hair tied in the nape of his neck, aged about fifty and an expatriate Scot living in France. Other characters are interesting but have a tendency to be all good or all bad, with the result that I wasn't entirely surprised by the revelation of who had killed Jacques Gaillard. No, it wasn't Google.

If you've an interest in France or European politics this book could well appeal to you. Enzo Macleod is a forensic biologist who worked for Strathclyde police in Glasgow for seven years. I thought more could have been made of this but what's there is interesting, particularly in the area of facial reconstruction. May's an outsider living in France and he's a sharp observer of the people and their foibles.

This book is the first in a new series. As a character Enzo has potential and I think the next book will prove whether or not he has legs. Hopefully it will move away from the Dan Brown stereotyping and demonstrate the capabilities of Peter May and Enzo Macleod.

And who are the 'extraordinary people' of the title? Well, they're the people who are brighter than the rest of us and achieve more. Unfortunately they often seem to think that they're above the law too. It would be very easy to think that many of France's ruling elite, graduates of ENA, fall into this category.

My thanks to the publishers, Poison Pen Press for forwarding this book.

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Buy Extraordinary People by Peter May at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Extraordinary People by Peter May at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Extraordinary People by Peter May at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Extraordinary People by Peter May at Amazon.com.


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