“On the night of 22 December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames. 168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly. The miraculous sole survivor is a three-month-old baby girl. Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking an investigation that will last for almost two decades. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie?
Eighteen years later, having failed to discover the truth, private detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing an account of his investigation in the girl’s hands. But, as he sits at his desk about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything – then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone…”
The latest book I’ve read was one that I picked up from my local library, having been intrigues by the above blurb from the inside front cover.
French author Michel Bussi had his novel “Un Avion Sans Elle” published in 2012 and “After The Crash” is the English translation of said novel, undertaken by Sam Taylor and published in 2015.
The “current” action in the story takes place in 1998 following the final day of private detective Credule Grand-Duc’s eighteen-year investigation into the true identity of the baby girl who survived the 1980 place crash on Mont Terri in Switzerland.
Marc Vitral, who has spent those years with the girl, known as Lylie, as his sister is given a journal by her before she promptly disappears without explanation. The journal was written by the detective and contains an account of his investigations leading from 1980 right up to his decision to end his life.
As we follow Marc in his desperate attempts to find Lylie we also join him in reading the journal and thus eventually discover the truth, amidst a number of deaths and encounters with a variety of characters who also feature in Grand-Duc’s tale.
Handily enough, the journal has been written rather like a novel itself, rather than a dry and formal text, which makes the story flow more easily even if it being presented in such a way seems a little unlikely. The whole book is a bit like a puzzle and wouldn’t work if any of those pieces were missing.
Themes touched on within the story include the rich versus the poor, incest and the mental effects on family members of not knowing if their child is alive or dead, so there’s plenty to get your teeth into. On the minus side I would have to say that the climax to the story is a little weak, perhaps fairly predictable once you reach a certain stage in the tale, but well told nonetheless.