Praised as one of France’s most ingenious crime writers, Michel Bussi has written a truly thrilling and inventive story in Don't Let Go. Set in an idyllic resort on the paradise island of Réunion, Liane Bellion goes up to the hotel room she is sharing with her husband and young daughter and never returns. All the police find is a locked empty room and witnesses who claim that they never saw her leave. But what really happened to Liane Bellion? And why is her husband now on the run after originally claiming his innocence? What else does he have to hide?
When I first read the plot to this book I was immediately gripped. Even before the first page I was already trying to work out the fate of Liane Bellion and the meaning behind the husband's erratic behaviour of his innocence vs. his guilt. The suspense was already heightened but, unfortunately for me, it didn't last. The plot ended up dragging, the thriller aspect fell flat, and the writing at times felt staggered and stilted. The ending was cleverly thought through and I probably would have appreciated it a lot more if I was more connected to the story throughout. The unfolding story is told from the perspective of several characters and Bussi really masters capturing the different characters voices, manners and thoughts. But this character changing point of narrative technique is truly a hit and miss with me - sometimes I like, sometimes I don't, and this generally has a lot to do with the plot and writing as well. I didn't really engage with any of Bussi's characters, perhaps because their narratives were constantly stopping and starting. They lacked depth and at times originality and this left me unable to form a connection with them.
Needless to say, there were some aspect I did like.
I liked how Bussi used chronological time stamps with each new chapter or point of narrative. Whilst this technique is something I usually glance over in other books, in Don't Let Go it really added an additional level of reality and suspense. I was constantly aware of the sense of time and it really got me thinking about how dangerous lost time can be to investigations of this nature. This idea of the 'every minute counts' concept really enabled Bussi to maintain this constantly flowing story format, even with the constant changing of point of narrative and the drag of the cat-and-mouse chase scenes.
Also, Bussi did a fantastic job of setting the scene, so much so that I felt the tranquility of Réunion's palm trees and beaches but also the concealed ruin of the lava and ash covered outskirts from the surrounding volcano.
This is the first Michel Bussi novel I've read and although it wasn't as thrilling as what the plot made it out to be I'm still very keen to read other novels by Michel Bussi, particularly 'Thriller of the Year' After the Crash, which, according to Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times-bestselling author is a book worth clearing your schedule for. Needless to say I've scheduled it in!
You can buy Don't Let Go and Michel Bussi's other novels via Waterstones website here.
Published by Orion Publishing Co
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