|After The Crash - Michel Bussi|
It's a very simple and yet fascinating story. A place crashes in the mountains. Everyone aboard dies. A three-month old baby is found next to the wreck. Two families, one super rich and other of limited means, claim ownership of the baby. They get into a fierce battle that lasts for 18 years, till the baby is an adult.
No points for guessing the side where the scale would tilt. And yet it takes them 18 years to discover the truth.
And when the truth comes out, more than who won or who lost, I, the reader, was disappointed! More on this as we go along.
So the book starts with the plane crash and a detective who is about to commit suicide. This detective has been hired by the richer family to establish the true identity of the baby. The detective wants to kill himself because despite his earnest attempts he hasn't been able to crack the case. But just before he is to pull the trigger on the gun placed on his temple, he stumbles onto something and establishes the real identity of the baby and thus solves the case.
All the while he was investigating, he has maintained meticulous records and observations of his hunt for the identity of the baby. And over the course of his investigation he has come close to the miracle baby (as she is called in the book) and the family that gets the custody of the baby (I am not saying which one).
The narrative shuttles you between present and past, weaving all that has happened over the years in a tight story. It has been done so well that you as a reader is never lost and you actually start craving for the bouncing around in the timeline. (Side note: I actually thought that I could rewrite #tnks with the same narrative style!)
Apart from that the book has a lot of false starts, red herrings, clues that lead to dead ends. In that sense, the book keeps you engaged. There are clues strewn all over the narrative. And yes it is hard to put the book down. It does drag for a bit here and there but that's ok. And no it is no Stieg Larsson.
For me, when I read a book that promises a mystery, I want to have all the clues in front of me. I want to put on my Sherlock hat and try and decode the clues myself. I want to race ahead of the narrator and discover the truth. I want the gratification of being proved right. Or wrong. With After The Crash, I was not given the opportunity. I was told that the clue is in front of my eyes but it was never revealed to me. It was hidden from me till the very end. I thus felt cheated as a reader. As an amateur detective. But then that's the author's choice. Not the reader's and I respect Michel's!
So while I thoroughly liked reading the book, I did not like how the entire mystery came together towards the end. The last quarter of the book could be have been far well written. The mystery could've been little more twisted. The reader could've been given little more credit.
Having said that, its a great one-time read. And no, you will not read the book second or third time to enjoy the descriptions or dialogues or scenes or narratives. Overall, a 3-star rating from me.
P.S.: Thanks to @Vivek for sending a review copy. As with other review copies, this one is up for taking. If you are in Mumbai and can pick it up at your expense, please let me know and I will be happy to give this away.
And no, I was not paid to read the book or write the review. I did on my own accord.