The Executioner Weeps by Frederic Dard and David Coward (translator)
|The Executioner Weeps by Frederic Dard and David Coward (translator)|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A spooky and yet totally sunlit take on obsession; this French master deserved his major prize for this short novel.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: March 2017|
|Publisher: Pushkin Vertigo|
Meet Daniel Mermet. An artist by trade, he's having a working holiday on the coast of Spain when he suddenly sees a woman throw herself in front of his car – a woman who he finds is not quite dead, and who is staggeringly attractive. She only seemed to have a violin in its case with her, which is a write-off. Taking her back to his hotel, the following days prove her to have total amnesia – she can remember the nature of her life and how to operate, as any intelligent person could, but has no recollection of her past. Daniel, quite quickly, falls desperately in love with her – and she with he; but that hole in her memory is only going to fill with some quite startling truths…
This is a delight of a read. Dark and yet glossily sunlit, it reads like it could come from any age, not just the mid-1950s, and from any country, and not just from one of France's many noir/thriller writers. It has a strong narrative, that makes the pages turn, but also one that allows you, if you wish, to sit and think – if you were in a strange land, with little to tie you down, wouldn't you lust after a life with someone you adored who seemed to have even fewer such ties?
The only parts of the book that age it are some flowery allusions to allegedly rampant sex, and his feeling the romance can be spoken in terms of her being his – but here, more than many other partnerships, this assumed possession could be the case. She's not completely in Daniel's hands, and he hasn't got the firmest grip on anything, but she can't really be a proactive character. And yet you do like her.
Not as much as he does, of course, which is what this book boils down to in the end – a brilliantly confined tale of obsession. By the end you're wondering why Hitchcock never found his way here – although the reading style is perfectly open to your own visuals which are just as intense, just as good. I suspected our narrator wasn't as handsome as he makes out a couple of times, but hey – the holiday lifestyle can lead to excuses being made in those regards. I suggest you strongly think of taking a visit to these shores – if only because I can easily see you too falling in love…
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
For more forgotten secrets that cause crimes and memory loss, we could nudge you to Dare to Remember by Susanna Beard.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Executioner Weeps by Frederic Dard and David Coward (translator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Executioner Weeps by Frederic Dard and David Coward (translator) at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.