‘Blood Wedding’ by Pierre Lemaitre and translated from the French by Frank Wynne tells the story of Sophie Duguet, a nanny who is becoming increasingly forgetful and paranoid. When the child in her care Leo is found brutally murdered, she has no recollection of what happened and goes on the run fearing that she killed him during one of her frequent blackouts. However, it soon becomes clear that something very sinister has been causing Sophie’s alarming behaviour and changing her identity won’t be the solution to her problems.
‘Blood Wedding’ is one of Lemaitre’s early standalone novels originally published in France as ‘Robe de marié’ in 2009. The Prix Goncourt-winning The Great Swindle was one of my favourite novels of last year and I also enjoyed the first two books in the Camille Verhoeven series Irène and Alex (I have yet to read the third book ‘Camille’). Compared with his other books, there are fewer graphic descriptions of violence in ‘Blood Wedding’ which appear to be a trademark feature of Lemaitre’s writing in both his thrillers and literary fiction. However, Lemaitre proves that he is also very effective at conveying the equally unnerving psychological aspects of the story, distorting the boundaries between reality and imagination and ratcheting up the tension as Sophie’s paranoia increases.
While Sophie is initially presented as untrustworthy, the second part of the story takes a very ominous turn and is told through Frantz Berg’s diary entries where the reader discovers the terrifying lengths that he is prepared to go to in order to make Sophie believe she is losing her mind. However, rather than a straightforward victim vs. villain scenario, both Sophie and Frantz are manipulative and unreliable in different ways and it isn’t long before more twists in the story change everything again. Although certain aspects of the plot are hinged on some pretty unlikely coincidences, it is definitely a book which will keep you guessing until the final showdown at the very end.
‘Blood Wedding’ is a dark, disturbing and twisty French thriller which will definitely appeal to fans of the Camille Verhoeven trilogy. Many thanks to Quercus Books and MacLehose Press for sending me a review copy via NetGalley. ‘Blood Wedding’ will be published in the UK on Thursday 7th July.