Unknown by Dieter van Cauwelaert is a psychological thriller that revolves around Martin Harris--an American botanist who arrives in Paris for a conference, only for his taxi to get into an accident which leads Harris into a coma. After waking up from his coma, Harris goes up to where he's staying with his wife, only to see that another man has taken his place and is claiming to be the botanist Martin Harris.
Ok, so this came out in the movie theaters recently with Liam Neeson starring as Martin Harris, January Jones as the wife, and Helen Kruger as the taxi driver. Also the movie takes place in Berlin instead of Paris. But nevertheless, I'm always interested in what makes one book into a movie, while other books remain books. And reading the story, I can understand why Hollywood came calling.
First of all, the core of the book is a deep psychological mystery. What's it like to have another person living your life? Having the exact same childhood, spouse, and profession? At first glance, this may seem like a science fiction type set-up. But the good thing about this story is there's no fantasy involved. Everything is very real. The story pulls you in, and you walk alongside Harris--feeling the same emotions of confusion and anger as he does. The author makes it clear that something sinister is going on, but keeps you clueless until the end.
Another good aspect of this book were the characters. As the main character, Martin Harris is sympathetic. As he runs to the police and tries to speak to his wife, no one believes him, except for the taxi driver--another sympathetic character who is a single mother and in danger of losing her taxi license after the crash. In balance to the sympathetic characters, we have the shadowy characters--like Harris' wife, and Martin Harris #2.
Overall, this was a decent European thriller. It's super short and quick to read. There's no superfluous information, it's all about the main plot. For me, it was an enjoyable read. Looking forward to seeing the movie.