Sandrine by Thomas H Cook

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Sandrine by Thomas H Cook

Cook Sandrine.jpg
Buy Sandrine by Thomas H Cook at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A courtroom drama set in real-time where the revelations are nicely rationed and the ponderous excitement makes it unputdownable. I couldn't help but read it in one sitting!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: August 2013
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 978-1781855133

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Sam and Sandrine Madison live the American dream. Both have jobs that they love, lecturing at the same college, an adult daughter and many memories that include a beautiful holiday in the Med. However, the dream goes tragically sour. Sandrine is found dead and Sam is charged with murder despite his protestations that it was suicide. The court case begins and Sam starts a fight for his own life as the past catches up with him in unusual and unexpected ways.

Crime is Thomas H Cook's speciality, having written 40 novels and has award nominations to prove he's rather good at it. This is the second of his novels I've had the pleasure to review. I enjoyed The Crime of Julian Wells but I loved Sandrine. I thought it would take me a couple of days to read in between unpacking boxes from our recent house move, but I miscalculated: I was so lost in Sam's fight against the death penalty that I read it in a night.

The novel is divided into trial days and then chaptered under people's names as they're called to the witness box in a type of Law and Order format from the accused's viewpoint. As we sit with Sam we see through his eyes and, in between the witnesses' testimony, he narrates the events leading up to his discovery of Sandrine's lifeless body along with a few discoveries and realisations that surprise him as much as they do us.

For those who expect something akin to John Grisham, this is different and, for me, better (and I speak as one who loves a good John Grisham). There are some common elements: we don't know whether we believe Sam or accept his perception because as he tries to convince us he also seems to be trying to convince himself. However, the pace of Sandrine is slower than a Grisham and yet the excitement and intrigue still build; quite a writing feat. The saga of the Madisons is ponderously exciting rather than car-chase-exciting and feels all the more authentic as a result. This isn't Hollywood; this is a story that could be lifted from our newspapers.

As the witnesses and Sam piece things together we realise this isn't merely a parade of people being questioned by lawyers. This is the story of a life, a marriage and a death that grips us to the very last word. Now that's an absorption level that's worth reading to the exclusion of all else. At least that's my excuse!

If you've enjoyed this then you deserve to treat yourself to The Crime of Julian Wells by Thomas H Cook. It also centres on an unexpected death but samey it's not. We've also enjoyed A Dancer in the Dust by Thomas H Cook and his non-fction Tragic Shores: A Memoir Of Dark Travel. You might also appreciate The Spire by Richard North Patterson.

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Buy Sandrine by Thomas H Cook at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sandrine by Thomas H Cook at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Sandrine by Thomas H Cook at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sandrine by Thomas H Cook at Amazon.com.

Booklists.jpg Sandrine by Thomas H Cook is in the Top Ten Crime Novels 0f 2013.

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