#BookReview Three Days a Life by Pierre Lemaitre (author) Frank Wynne (translator) @maclehosepress @QuercusBooks

“Three Days a Life” by Pierre Lemaitre is available in various formats, though release dates for these are different.  Published by  Maclehose Press and Quercus Books


In 1999, in the small provincial town of Beauval, France, twelve-year-old Antoine Courtin accidentally kills a young neighbor boy in the woods near his home. Panicked, he conceals the body and to his relief–and ongoing shame–he is never suspected of any connection to the child’s disappearance.
But the boy’s death continues to haunt him, shaping his life in unseen ways. More than a decade later, Antoine is living in Paris, now a young doctor with a fiancée and a promising future. On a rare trip home to the town he hates and fears, Antoine thoughtlessly sleeps with a beautiful young woman from his past. She shows up pregnant at his doorstep in Paris a few months later, insisting that they marry, but Antoine refuses.

Meanwhile, the newly discovered body of Antoine’s childhood victim means that the case has been reopened, and all of his old fears rush back. Then the young woman’s father threatens Antoine with a paternity test–which would almost certainly match the DNA found on the dead child’s body. Will Antoine finally be forced to confront his crime? And what is he prepared to do to keep his secrets buried in the past?

My Thoughts:

When I normally write-up a review, I like to start with my version of a synopsis, but only for the beginning of the story.  But after reading this book and then re-reading the summery prior to writing the review, I realised how much detail it already included, but it doesn’t take away from the story.  It is a story about the mental journey from 1999 to 2015.

This book is a noir fiction. it focuses on Antoine Coutin from the small French town of Beauval, and the way he deals with the accidental killing of a younger boy.  It is a very well laid out story from the outset.  The reader is introduced to the setting and the characters.  It discusses their relationships and dynamics within their various groups.  The first half of the book deals with 1999, the lead up to the death, the death itself and the thoughts of Antoine as he deals with what he has done.  His state of mind, what his first responses are, the way he thinks through the consequences and how thinks people look at him now. From then a leap forward to the year 2011, now older, Antoine’s state of mind as he has moved on, but how he still deals with occasional troubled thoughts and dreams.  Then another jump to 2015 to tell of where Antoine is and how he is still dealing with the event.  The setting has been very well described, the author has managed to build a very convincing visual image of the town, it’s surroundings and also the time of year. As each of these time jumps occur, the author has included a brief explanation of events as the story then continues.

I found this very different to a previous book by Lemaitre and was very surprised by the contrast in styles.  This is well laid out as it explains the way the main protagonist thinks.  It comes across as quite a subtle story, it is one that just gradually consumed me, the way that Lemaitre has very cleverly explored the way a 12-year-old may see the world, his thoughts, actions and consequences was very addictive reading.  I read this in one sitting, almost a novella sized book.  The story leads the reader and by the end was absorbed, but when the end arrives there is a sudden twist, that completely blindsided me.  Finishing this on a high.

I would recommend this to readers of noir fiction, of psychological fiction, as well as readers of general fiction, murder and mystery genres.

About the Author:

Pierre Lemaitre Pierre Lemaitre was born in Paris in 1951. He worked for many years as a teacher of literature before becoming a novelist.

He has won the Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger three times, once alongside Fred Vargas, for “Alex”, and twice as sole winner for “Camille” and “The Great Swindle”. In 2013 “The Great Swindle” (published in French as “Au revoir là-haut”) won the Prix Goncourt, France’s leading literary award, and it will be released as a film in 2017.

In addition to his “Brigade Criminelle” novels starring Commandant Camille Verhoeven, Lemaitre writes standalone thrillers including “Blood Wedding” and the forthcoming “Three Days in a Life” and “Inhuman Resources”. “The Great Swindle” will be developed into a trilogy in the coming years.

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: MacLehose Press (13 July 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085705662X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857056627
  • Amazon UK     Amazon US

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Better still go and buy the book.


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