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Book Author: Graeme Macrae Burnet

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ADELE BEDEAU by Graeme Macrae Burnet: Book Review

Every day I receive a list of books from Amazon’s Kindle site that are offered at an enticingly low price.  Sometimes I purchase a book, sometimes I don’t.  A few weeks ago I paid $1.99 for The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau, never having heard of the novel or its author Graeme Macrae Burnet, and it turned out to be an incredible find.

The novel revolves around two people, Manfred Baumann, a socially and physically awkward figure, and Georges Gorski, an inspector in the Saint Louis, France police department.  Baumann is the manager of the town’s bank, a man who has for many years led a life of almost incredible regularity.  He wakes up at the same time every morning, goes to the Restaurant de la Cloche for dinner every evening, plays bridge with the same three men every Thursday night, and chooses to do his laundry in his building’s basement every Saturday, a time he’s extremely unlikely to meet any of his neighbors.

One evening he pays a bit more attention than usual to his regular waitress, Adèle Bedeau, even taking, for him, the incredibly bold step of leaving the restaurant moments after she does simply to see what she’s doing after work.  Baumann does this the following night as well, when he again sees her meeting a young man and the two of them riding away on the youth’s scooter.  And that appears to be the last time anyone has seen Adèle.

Several days later, when Baumann, along with the other habitues of the Restaurant de la Cloche, is questioned by Inspector Gorski, he denies having seen Adéle or the young man.  He’s not quite certain why he hasn’t told the inspector the truth, but once he’s given his statement he can’t figure out a way to get past his falsehood without bringing unwanted attention to himself.

Georges Gorski doesn’t have a life that is much happier than Manfred’s.  Although he’s not a loner, having a wife and teenage daughter, his marriage is not a happy one, and he and his wife have little in common.  Georges is haunted by a long-ago murder and the man who was tried and convicted for the crime; Georges, a very young policeman at the time, never believed that man to be guilty.  And his preoccupation with finding out the truth of the case is one of the reasons for the distance between the detective and his wife.

At first, Gorski has no reason to think there’s anything suspicious about Baumann’s statement or any reason to suspect him in the waitress’ disappearance.  But as the case drags on, Gorski delves more deeply into Manfred’s past and discovers some surprises and a connection between Baumann and himself that brings up memories of the unsolved murder.

The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau is an incredible tour de force.  I had to re-read the last chapter and the notes that follow it to be certain I understood what was going on, and when I did I was delighted and amazed.  The novel is so clever and well written that it’s a wonderful read from its beginning to its surprising end.

You can read more about Graeme Macrae Burnet at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.