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Alex: The Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy Hardcover – September 3, 2013

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2013: A young woman has been kidnapped and the clock is ticking on her very life, but before persistent detective Camille Verhoeven can save her, he has to figure out who she is. We, meanwhile, know exactly where she is: squeezed into a tiny wooden cage, being starved and brutally tortured both physically and psychologically. But why? It's through Verhoeven's investigation that we find our answers. This three-act crime thriller is the second book in what is known overseas as "The Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy," but it is the first to be translated from French to English. From the first page, it's gut-wrenchingly graphic, emotionally exhausting, and almost impossible to put down until the end. --Robin A. Rothman

From Booklist

During the reign of Louis XVI, a cage was designed to inflict maximum torture. It was built so that the person in it could barely move his or her limbs. Muscles would atrophy, totally crippling the inhabitant. In this horror-film–like French suspense story, this type of cage has been updated and suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse filled with rats. After a young woman is forced into a van off a Paris street, police know their time is very limited to find the victim before she’s murdered. Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven, whose own wife was kidnapped and killed, is forced into taking on the case, which moves, quickly, from kidnap to hostage drama. The details concerning the woman in the cage are reminiscent of Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” in their mounting despair. What the police uncover about the young woman sets them off in another, equally disturbing direction. Verhoeven’s knowledge of kidnapping—how it’s a special crime, marked by a great deal of planning and with a demanding time line—is fascinating. Filled with many twists and turns of plot, along with a huge surprise. --Connie Fletcher

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: MacLehose Press; Reprint edition (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1623650003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1623650001
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (431 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Every time you relax a little, thinking you know what's going on, the story takes another horrifying turn. ALEX is masterful storytelling.

We are in Paris, and a pretty young woman has been beaten and abducted in plain view of a witness. The police race against time to find the victim in time to save her. Fortunately or unfortunately for the reader, the narrative follows the victim as well as the police. We get to witness what is happening to Alex, and if you're squeamish, this part of the story will be hard to take. But there's more, and worse, to come...

Camille Verhoeven, the senior detective, has been forced to take the case. Ever since his own wife was kidnapped and killed, he's avoided kidnapping cases like the plague. His boss thinks it will be good for Camille to face his fears.

The investigative team is as fascinating as the victim. Camille has issues with his mother and also his height (he's four ft. eleven). Louis dresses with immaculate elegance and handles interrogations like a Jesuit. His uncle is an archbishop. Armand, a good detail man and incredible cheapskate, lives on borrowed cigarettes and caged meals and dresses himself from a charity shop. There is also a vain, pompous magistrate who drives Camille crazy.

I have never read a novel packed with so many turnabouts, surprises and shocking revelations - all entirely credible.

The author writes with beautiful clarity and understated wit. His sketches of even minor characters are vivid and deft. This is Pierre Lemaitre's first novel translated into English. I hope there are many more coming.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Raven on February 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Every so often a crime thriller comes along that leaves you breathless and takes you on a disturbing journey into the darkest recesses of human experience- `Alex' is one such book and you are guaranteed a tale of the unexpected from start to finish. Don't expect any spoilers or dwelling on the plot from me, as I want you all to be as surprised by this twisty tale as I was, but all I will say is, you are in for more than one shock or two along the way. Intriguing huh?

The book opens innocuously enough with the kidnapping of a young woman, the eponymous Alex, but as the grim details of her incarceration unfold, and quite frankly, will probably haunt your dreams, she finds herself having to draw on every ounce of her own resource-fulness to survive and seek her escape. With the police seemingly at a loss to identify her and, to more importantly track her and her kidnapper down, what is it about this woman that eludes their detection and has forced a man to take such serious measures as to patiently stalk her, and then seek to watch her die in a pretty damn barbarous way? Well, I'm not telling, but suffice to say when the true nature of Alex's character and her ruthless sense of retribution are slowly revealed, you will be completely caught up in, and engaged with the expose of this remarkably determined and dangerous young woman- a woman who admittedly makes Lisbeth Salander look like Mary Poppins. But, and here's the clever bit, you will be wrongfooted at every turn in your emotional responses to her and this is where the genius of this dark tale lies.

Outside of the sterling characterisation of the truly hypnotic Alex herself, Lemaitre proves he is no slouch at creating other compelling characters, as an integral part of the whole.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By misplaced cajun on September 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
How happy am I that Quercus has begun releasing titles in the States? Pretty freaking happy!

ALEX by Pierre Lemaitre is part of Quercus's Maclehose Press imprint - translated lit and crime fiction - and is one of their first titles to hit shelves here. Though it's actually the second book in the Verhoeven trilogy, Alex is the first of Lemaitre's works to be translated into English and it earned Lemaitre the CWA International Dagger award this year.

A witness reports a kidnapping and Commandant Camille Verhoeven is assigned the case. Verhoeven is a last resort - everyone knows that he won't take kidnappings since the tragic fate of his own wife - but the Divisionnaire has made it clear that there is no one else. The witness saw a man with a white, unmarked van punch and kick a young woman before taking off with her in the vehicle. Unfortunately the woman's description doesn't match anyone who's been reported missing so the only hope is identifying the man with the van. With such a common vehicle, Verhoeven and his team have their work cut out for them and time is running out for the victim.

This is one of those books that starts as one thing and ends up something completely different. It's thriller through and through but by part two Lemaitre has turned the whole thing on its head! The twist, something I do not want to give away in the least bit, elevates Alex well beyond my wildest expectations.

The narrative alternates between Alex and Verhoeven, both of whom are interesting characters in their own very different ways. Verhoeven, as the lead investigator, is 4'11'' and a widower whose own wife was kidnapped and killed while eight months pregnant.
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