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The Accident on the A35
Cover of The Accident on the A35
The Accident on the A35
An Inspector Gorski Investigation
The Accident on the A35 returns to the scene of Burnet's accomplished first novel, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau—the small French town of Saint-Louis. Detective Gorski is called away from his night of solitary drinking to the site of a car accident that left Bertrand Barthelme, a respected solicitor, dead. When the deceased's rather attractive wife suggests that the crash may not have been an accident, Gorski looks closer into Barthelme's circumspect movements on the night of his death. His investigation leads him to various bars, hotels, and brothels in the nearby city of Strasbourg. At the same time, Barthelme's rebellious son, drunk on Jean Paul Sartre novels, is conducting an investigation of his own. Their independent, dual inquiries lead the reader down a twisted road marked by seedy back rooms, bar brawls, a moment of accidental incest, and—as we have come to expect from Burnet—copious amounts of wine.
The Accident on the A35 is a darkly humorous, subtle, and sophisticated novel that burrows into the psyches of its characters and explores the dark corners of life in a sleepy town.
The Accident on the A35 returns to the scene of Burnet's accomplished first novel, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau—the small French town of Saint-Louis. Detective Gorski is called away from his night of solitary drinking to the site of a car accident that left Bertrand Barthelme, a respected solicitor, dead. When the deceased's rather attractive wife suggests that the crash may not have been an accident, Gorski looks closer into Barthelme's circumspect movements on the night of his death. His investigation leads him to various bars, hotels, and brothels in the nearby city of Strasbourg. At the same time, Barthelme's rebellious son, drunk on Jean Paul Sartre novels, is conducting an investigation of his own. Their independent, dual inquiries lead the reader down a twisted road marked by seedy back rooms, bar brawls, a moment of accidental incest, and—as we have come to expect from Burnet—copious amounts of wine.
The Accident on the A35 is a darkly humorous, subtle, and sophisticated novel that burrows into the psyches of its characters and explores the dark corners of life in a sleepy town.
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About the Author-
  • Graeme Macrae Burnet has established a reputation for smart and literary mystery writing with his highly praised novel, His Bloody Project, which was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He was born and brought up in Kilmarnock and has lived in Prague, Bordeaux, Porto, and London. He now lives in Glasgow, Scotland.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 30, 2018
    Man Booker–finalist Burnet’s smart, sharp follow-up to The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau offers a “lost” novel by fictional French writer Raymond Brunet (whose anagram is hardly subtle), released by his estate after his suicide. It again focuses on the sleepy French town of Saint-Louis, in particular the titular car accident, which kills local lawyer Bertrand Barthelme. While the death itself is not a crime, the question of where he was that night—and every Tuesday, when he claimed to be dining with colleagues—drives his teenage son, Raymond, and local detective Gorski into separate investigations. Gorksi’s, set against his struggles with a crumbling marriage and alcoholism, takes him to a sexually charged murder in a nearby city. Raymond, meanwhile, finds an address in his father’s desk, and soon meets a mysterious and attractive young woman. While neither investigation’s twist is a shock, the real story is the two characters’ emotional journeys, exacerbated by an afterword suggesting that the two Raymonds (teenager and fictitious author) are one and the same. Burnet elevates what starts as a Simenon pastiche into something dazzling.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from October 1, 2018

    The telephone on the desk rings. It's for CI Georges Gorski of the Saint-Louis police. A Mercedes has skidded off the A35, a French trunk road running between bustling Strasbourg and the byway that is Saint-Louis. The sole occupant, prominent local lawyer Bertrand Barthelme, has been killed. Many would instantly dismiss it as an accident, but that's not Gorski's way. He plods on, asking sometimes embarrassing questions. Why does Barthelme's considerably younger wife seem so restrained upon hearing the news? What to make of their son's existential airs, as thick as the cigarette smoke in the local cafés? And what was Barthelme doing on that road? Burnet (The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau) lends metafictional zip to the novel's foreword and afterword, and what's in between is noir deep down to its dark roots. There's the merry widow, the hangdog detective, and the John Paul Sartre-obsessed son who undertakes his own parallel investigation. A host of distinctive bit players, all of whom have been in their roles their whole lives, further populate this Georges Simenon novel as refracted through the lens of French film director Georges Clouzot. VERDICT Fans of literary noir will clamor for more.--Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2018
    The Man Booker Prize finalist (for His Bloody Project, 2015) spins another tale within a tale in this "Historical Thriller by Raymond Brunet, Translated and Introduced by Graeme Macrae Burnet."Saint-Louis advocate Bertrand Barthelme, on his way home from his weekly dinner with his law partner, Gustave Corbeil, and two other old friends, skids off the A35 and is thrown through his windshield. It's clearly an accident, but since that's not at all clear to Lucette Barthelme, the victim's much younger widow, police chief Georges Gorski agrees to make inquiries. Not a single person he talks to accepts his right to ask nosy questions about a car crash, but apart from their resistance, the only evidence he unearths is the discovery that Barthelme's Tuesday evening dinners were fictitious; all three of his alleged companions maintain that they never met for dinner. In all probability the advocate was spending the time with a mistress, but after all, this is France. While Gorski, whose own wife has recently left him, presumably because he's unambitious and a little boring, attempts to link Barthelme's death to the strangling a few hours earlier of Veronique Marchal in Strasbourg, the next city along the A35, the dead man's 17-year-old son, Raymond Barthelme, takes enough time out from reading Sartre to open his own investigation along quite different lines, beginning by asking why his father was interested enough in 13 Rue Saint-Fiacre, Mulhouse, to write the address on a scrap of paper Raymond has found at the bottom of a drawer. Both sleuths end up making important discoveries quite at odds with either their expectations or the leading conventions of the genre before an afterword written in Burnet's editorial voice adds several metatextual hints more playful than compelling.With or without the metafictional frame, an engaging tale of domestic intrigue in backwater France with two appealing detective figures.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • The Guardian "An accomplished, multilayered crime story set in France from the Booker-shortlisted Scottish author . . . . It has a denouement like something out of Greek tragedy but delivers as a proper police procedural."
  • Financial Times "Far more than most crime books, this is very much a novel of character--particularly that of the wistful but tenacious Gorski . . . with its nostalgic echoes of crime fiction of the past and elegant, economical prose, it affords a variety of quiet and satisfying pleasures."
  • Scotsman "It's slow, atmospheric, often surprising, with a denouement which is beautifully under-played. One should also say it is daring . . . enjoyable, a very nice piece of craftsmanship."
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An Inspector Gorski Investigation
Burnet Graeme Macrae
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