The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau – Graeme Macrae Burnet

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The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau – Graeme Macrae Burnet Empty The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau – Graeme Macrae Burnet

Post by Graham on Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:11 pm

An inside page, like a second front cover, proclaims the legend

Adèle Bedeau
Raymond Brunet
Translated and with an afterword by
Graeme Macrae Burnet

I thought it curious the translator’s name should grace the front cover and didn’t notice the similarity of their last names. My suspicions weren’t aroused until I got to the end and read the afterword. In apparent sincerity Burnet relates the tragic life of the French author and the success of his one published work and the subsequent film. You won’t be taken in as I was but suffice it to say I spent a good fifteen minutes* chasing this will-o-the-wisp. If a novel can’t stand on its own this will not help. If it can then there is no need for it. On the other hand, I am now familiar with all the films of Claude Chabrol, none of which goes by the title The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau.

Burnet’s novel is not front rank, but it is readable. He pulls off the stunt reasonably well, evoking life in the French provincial town of Saint-Louis so authentically I believed the author must be French. Reading it I was even admiring the translator’s ability to render the original French into English without losing the whiff of garlic and Gitanes. I can’t answer to what extent Burnet’s deceit assisted my appreciation.

There is little to the plot. There is a disappearance. There is a murder and a detective bent on solving the mystery. The meat of the story is the slow disintegration of the central character, Manfred Baumann. The psychology is the story rather than the supporting detail. I was not fully persuaded that even this was well grounded, and the description of the central crime doesn’t ring true either.

I’ve only just realised I read another of Macrae Burnet’s this year: His Bloody Project. It didn’t employ the same conceit and was more convincing if equally off-kilter. If you enjoy novels that probe aberrant psychology and crimes for which there is no satisfactory explanation, then Macrae Burnet is your man.

*more like half an hour, all right an hour, over a couple of days.


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