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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
It's very difficult to explain the plot of `Pierre Lemaitre's Alex' without giving away too much. We open with the kidnapping and torture of a girl. The attempts of the police to track down this girl, with no evidence to show that a kidnapping has even taken place, help to start unravelling a web of lies, violence and deceit.

The book is split into three...
Published 14 months ago by Macey89

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A clever thriller
Pierre Lemaitre's Alex is a very cleverly plotted thriller, with at least two very surprising changes of perspective that suddenly shift the ground from under your feet and make you realise that you didn't truly understand what was going on after all. It also has a rather endearing detective squad, with each member having very memorable quirks. So why only 3 stars? I...
Published 18 months ago by J. H. Bretts


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 13 Mar. 2014
It's very difficult to explain the plot of `Pierre Lemaitre's Alex' without giving away too much. We open with the kidnapping and torture of a girl. The attempts of the police to track down this girl, with no evidence to show that a kidnapping has even taken place, help to start unravelling a web of lies, violence and deceit.

The book is split into three separate sections, each of which turns the story on its head and takes t in a completely new direction. It's like solving a mystery within a mystery - each section throws up a new conundrum and completely changes our views on what has come before.

All of the characters are hiding secrets and our perceptions of different people shifted depending on the titbits of information that the author slowly released over the course of the novel. The pace moves along at a breakneck pace, shifting how we see characters with just a few short sentences and well-timed revelations.

The cast of police detectives is set up nicely for a series. There was a decent amount of back story around the characters included, probably for this reason, but for me, this took away from the main action too much. I was much too tempted to skim read my way through these sections.

Some people have commented on the violence being a bit much to stomach in parts - but I didn't actually think it was that bad. The thing that makes this book more shocking than others in its genre is the excruciating minute details and the way that the author drags out the descriptions of the torture scenes.

Once I started reading this, I literally couldn't put it down. It got its hooks in and it didn't let go. If you like detective thrillers with a bit of an edge, this is the book for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...The bottles of acid are safely stowed. There is no risk.", 17 Mar. 2014
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alex (The Camille Verhoeven Trilogy) (Paperback)
Such a lot of hype about this book, but it delivers, despite that. The translation by Frank Wynne was seamless for me, I didn’t notice anything outlandish or wrong in people mixing US with UK language, but then I do tend to read at a fast pace. So many books, so little time! This was a cracker, though the background explanation came like a bolt from the blue for me, when it all worked through to the denouement. We veer from feeling desperately sorry for Alex, to feeling revulsion, but once we know the big WHY? it falls into place with only a brief sense that the writer has lingered a bit too long on the torture inflicted. And that is bad – about the worst I’ve read. Shades of 1984.

I thought the detective team were well depicted, though the characterisation went a bit by rote – each one of them had a separate persona, but then development of them as people slightly juddered to a halt. Nevertheless, this was fiendishly and brilliantly plotted. Full marks for this one. It kept me reading without pause as the unpleasant jolts and violence did it’s horrendous best to put me off. I couldn’t stop reading – had to finish it. Had to know. When I closed the book it was with a sense of inordinate pity and sadness. A triumph of the genre.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth or Justice?, 8 July 2013
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I found this an amazing book, far above the usual serial killer stories. From the first pages when we meet Alex, in seventh heaven trying on wigs in Paris just before she is brutally kidnapped, to the indeed bitter (but ultimately satisfactory) ending, the pace rarely lets up and the story becomes ever more convoluted.
It's not possible to say much about the plot without revealing what any interested reader needs to discover for themselves, but I found myself firmly on the side of Alex throughout. She is a feisty person, damaged but determined, and for a foil for her we have the Paris police, oddities in their own right: Camille, the senior officer so small his feet swing when he sits in an ordinary chair and who lost his wife to a kidnapper; Louis the rich man, Armand the cadger, Le Guen the much-married, the Magistrate who all agree must have been a highly irritating little boy - all trying to make sense of a situation that for a long time seems to have very little.
Alex and the police are the people we spend time with and get to know and I wanted to spend the time with them, brutal as it often was. From the start I found it hard to put down and I was desperate to find out what the ending would be. It did not disappoint. Great story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cherchez la femme!, 9 Jan. 2014
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
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I absolutely loved this book. It is as complex and clever as Sarah Waters at her best. Pierre Lemaitre does a wonderful job in playing with the readers' emotions - hope, despair, anger, surprise, hate, pity - all of them come into play in this most unexpected package. On the outside, it looks like a run of the mill police procedural, exploring the somewhat arcane French judicial system. But it is so much more.

It is hard to explain just how good this is without spoiling it for those who have yet to read it. Broadly, I suppose, one could say that it opens with the police receiving a report of a young woman being bundled into a van against her will. They then have to work out who she is, where she is, and who is responsible - in whichever order comes naturally. Can't say more - perhaps, just this once, take it on trust.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 23 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Alex (The Camille Verhoeven Trilogy) (Paperback)
I had seen a few mentions of Alex by Pierre Lemaitre around the blogosphere and thought it might be a good fit, given my penchant for crime thrillers.

Was it ever! I was hooked from the first chapter. (And more than a little annoyed at myself that I didn't start reading earlier in the night) Fair warning right from the start - Gentle readers this one's not for you - there is graphic violence and disturbing situations. Back to that first chapter.....a beautiful young woman named Alex is snatched off the street, taken to an abandoned warehouse and forced into a small wooden crate which is then suspended from the ceiling. Her captor says nothing more to her other than he is going to watch her die. But Alex is resourceful....very resourceful...

A kidnapping is reported and the case is given to Commandant Camille Verhoeven - a man who lost his pregnant wife to a kidnapper - her body was found, but not the perpetrator and he has eschewed all kidnapping cases since. Verhoeven's boss LeGuen assigns him to the case as he says there is no one else and so Verhoeven reluctantly takes on the case. LeGuen has brought Verhoeven's old team back together. Lemaitre has created a memorable group of investigators that I really enjoyed. But the most memorable is of course Verhoeven.

"People rarely get the measure of Camille on first meeting and rarely appreciate him. This might also be because he's not exactly cheerful. Camille doesn't like himself very much." Camille is also a victim of fetal hypotrophy and stands only 4'11'. "Camille is positively stunted. He sees the world from the viewpoint of a thirteen year old." In contrast, his superior and old friend LeGuen is quite large - the scale is somewhere near three hundred pounds. Armand and Louis fill out the team. Again opposites - Louise is wealthy with no need to work and Armand is a notorious penny pincher. (His scavenging ways provided a light note in a heavy plot)

And what a plot! Lemaitre is fiendishly clever, leading the reader down one path initially and then veering off in a direction I didn't see coming. I really don't want to give much more away - I love being surprised and Lemaitre successfully caught me unawares. Loved it!

I have to also mention that Frank Wynne did a fantastic job with the translation - very smooth reading with no wooden clunky sentences or form.

Alex is an excellent thriller and a great introduction to a prickly character I want to see more of. Alex was the winner of the CWA International Dagger Award 2013.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Entertainment!, 22 Sept. 2013
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
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When it comes to crime fiction (note: I read widely in other fictional genres, also) I tend to be fairly insular in my reading: I have an (admitedly large) list of authors whose books I devour upon publication. If you're interested, my MUST READ writers alive today include: Jo Nesbo, Michael Connelly, John Connolly, James Lee Burke, Mark Billingham, George Pelecanos, Laurence Block, Val McDermid, Mo Hayder, Ruth Rendell, Peter Lovesey, Arnaldur Indridason, Henning Mankell, Peter Robinson, Robert Crais, Lee Child, Sue Grafton etc, etc. And don't get me started on all the brilliant dead authors I also read.

Anyway, this book came my way - outside my usual reading list - and I have to admit that it blew me away. Pierre Lemaitre
has produced a gripping, kidnap thriller. The epoynmous heroine is aware that she's being watched by a bloke across the street. She doesn't want to believe it, but when she's bundled into a white van and taken to an unused warehouse, she has no doubts. Once there, the beautiful young woman is subjected to horrible things and suffers unimaginable psychological horrors.

Alex attempts to escape and at the same time Commandant Camille Verhoeven is trying to learn the truth about her abduction...

This is a superbly written novel, and the character's are well fleshed-out. I galloped through this one and look forward to more of Frank Wynne's translations of the author's novels. Pierre Lemaitre is apparently very popular in his native France and this is the first of his books to be translated into English. I can confidently predict that it certainly won't be his last.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, involving crime novel, 10 Jun. 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
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This turned out to be a very good thriller/crime novel. I had some reservations, particularly in the early part of the book, but in the end I found it enthralling, exciting and very well done.

The story begins with a brutal and very cruel kidnapping, but there are genuinely surprising, intriguing and just about plausible plot developments which take the book in unexpected directions. The narrative alternates between the activities of the criminal and those of the police which I found extremely effective, giving drive and mystery to the story. The characters of the small police team were very well drawn and I hope to meet them again in future books. The dénouement is excellent, avoiding the now tedious cliché of a Tense One-To-One Stand Off With A Cornered Killer, but with things emerging cleverly in police interviews which for me were some of the most gripping scenes in the book. Whether or not you accept the explanation for the killer's actions, it was depicted and drawn out with a great deal more ingenuity and subtlety than the sort of facile psychobabble which we quite often get in crime novels.

I had two reservations. One was a minor one about the translation which was a little clunky in places and often couldn't quite make up it's mind whether it was in UK or US English. The juxtaposition of distinctively UK usages with those unmistakeably from the US was a little disconcerting - especially at the start - but certainly not enough to spoil the book. My other problem is the level of cruelty and violence. There is a thin line between realistic depiction for the sake of the plot and gratuitous torture-porn. At times I thought this book strayed over the line, and despite finding the book as a whole very good this made me uneasy. Certainly you should be warned that this isn't for the faint of heart.

That said, I thought this a good, exciting and gripping book and can recommend it as a very involving read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full of twists, 31 May 2013
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
An attractive young woman is abducted on the streets of Paris. A witness sees her being bundled into an anonymous white van, but no one knows who she is or where she has been taken. Camille Verhoeven (a male detective) is assigned the case, despite disturbing parallels in the abduction of his wife several years earlier. Gradually, through extensive police work, the detectives close in on the case and uncover the motivations of the kidnapper. In alternative chapters, we are shown what Alex, the kidnap victim, is going through - trapped and left to die in a small cage in a remote location.

This is a fast paced thriller which is broken into three distinct parts. The plot is cleverly constructed. Each part leads the reader to totally re-evaluate everything that they've read until now and to see the characters in quite different lights to how they were presented earlier. There are some very clever twists along the way. It all adds up to one of the more original and absorbing thrillers that I've read in some time.

The book was originally written in French and is the middle book in a trilogy (although a fourth book is apparently now planned), but is the first to be translated into english. Although there is the occasional clunky sentence, for the most part you don't notice it, which I think is the mark of a good translation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rollercoaster of emotion!, 1 Jun. 2013
By 
DaisyDaisy "Daisy" (Coventry) - See all my reviews
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I was a bit dubious about reading a book translated from French: I have read a few now and something fundamental just gets lost. This is so not the case in Alex - I was held prisoner by Lemaitre's riveting portrayal of revenge.

From the very beginning I was drawn into the story, by both Alex and Camille's perspectives of the initial kidnapping and the events that follow (I refuse to give anything away and ruin "Alex" for you!). All the characters were described in a way that they became individuals with a consciousness and nuances that really intrigued me. For me, there wasn't a character that did not fill the role exactly as required.

There were plenty of twists and turns that kept me hooked and the revealing moments were done so subtly I couldn't see them coming and was shocked many times. It all culminates in a fantastic ending that left me raving about this book.

I'm not even really a fan of crime thrillers, usually I lose patience and skip to end to find out who did what, but "Alex" is so well written that I didn't feel it was being dragged out for the sake of it and the plot unfolds so seamlessly that it didn't feel a slog to get through.

I would highly recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un thriller exceptionnel, 29 May 2013
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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The author, Pierre Lemaitre, seems to have written some very well-received thrillers but this is the first one I have come across. Extremely well translated by Frank Wynne, the author has given us a tour-de-force.

To give details of the storyline would rather give away the whole point of the book. But don't let this put you off. If you appreciate a good thriller, a serial killer on the run and a collection of very amusing police characters to add to a marvellous story, this is definitely a book to grab.

I can mention the police people. They are led by a bald and rather short Police Commandant who has a wicked sense of humour, his boss with similar humour but is seriously overweight, and the Commandant's two assistants, one of whom dresses in style, the other who begs, steals or borrows anything he can to avoid having to pay. A great team who successfully sort out the hunt for the killer - and I can say that with two major twists in the story, you will not be disappointed at all. If the rest of Lemaitre's books are as well translated and as excitingly penned, then I shall want to read every one of them. Marvellous stuff.
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Alex (The Camille Verhoeven Trilogy)
Alex (The Camille Verhoeven Trilogy) by Pierre Lemaitre (Paperback - 1 Aug. 2013)
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