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Blood-Red Rivers Hardcover – June, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The roman policier, or detective novel, has long been popular in France, but few works by French authors have received much attention in other countries. Jean-Christophe Grange's Blood-Red Rivers enjoyed considerable success in France (film rights have already been sold), and has arrived to test American waters.

When a mutilated corpse is discovered wedged in an isolated crevice on a rock face outside Guernon, a university town in the French Alps, Pierre Niémans--a brilliant Parisian detective given to uncontrollable fits of violence--arrives to investigate. Eager to escape the cloud of an official inquiry into his behavior (beating a hooligan so violently that the man is in a coma), Niémans swaggers into the tiny town, torn between outrage at being exiled and determination to prove himself to the superiors he detests. The body hints at a long history of animosity between the university and the townspeople; when another body is found frozen in a glacier, Niémans' investigation becomes linked to that of another maverick policeman, Karim Abdouf, who has a chip on his shoulder even bigger than Niémans's. Abdouf is attempting to discover why a child's tomb has been desecrated, and why all official traces of that child's existence have disappeared. When he discovers that the child's mysterious, beautiful mother comes from Guernon, Abdouf realizes that the antagonism between town and gown is not a matter of philosophy, but of life and death.

Blood-Red Rivers possesses the seeds of an interesting concept, but its promise is overwhelmed by a plot that lurches from one absurdity to another, clumsy characterization, a tedious reliance on clichéd dialogue, and a too-literal translation. It was touted by a review in Le Figaro as "the best thriller since Silence of the Lambs," but there's no comparison between Grange's novel and Thomas Harris's skilled plotting, concise language, and disturbingly sympathetic portrait of a madman. Given the number of truly talented French mystery and thriller authors, one hopes that more promising works will soon be sent across the Atlantic. --Kelly Flynn

From Publishers Weekly

A trigger-happy police superintendent from Paris and a dreadlocked maverick Arab policeman from a small French town are unlikely partners in this intricate thriller by French journalist Grang?. First separately, then together, Pierre Ni?mans and Karim Abdouf investigate a mind-boggling case involving suspected ritual killings, mistaken identities and long-held grudges in the French Alps. After Ni?mans nearly kills a machete-wielding rioter during a street mel?e, he is sent to the prosperous university town of Guernon to investigate the murder of a 25-year-old university librarian, who has been tortured, strangled and wedged up in the rock face of a towering glacier in the Alps. Interviews with the victim's beautiful bitchy wife and the young rock-climbing ice queen professor who found the body captivate Ni?mans, but another young man is discovered killed and tortured before the veteran detective is able to make much progress on the case. Meanwhile, Abdouf is pursuing his own investigation into the desecration of a mysterious child's grave in a nearby depressed small town. Fifteen years after the boy was buried, Abdouf finds himself searching for clues to his true identity and picks up a thread that leads him to Guernon and Ni?mans. Dozens of falsified files from the maternity ward at the university hospital, an old story of a woman who believed she and her daughter were being pursued by demons, and the gradually emerging outline of a killer's remorseless drive for revenge finally guide Ni?mans and Abdouf to a terrifying, climactic scene at river's edge. This brainteaser will have readers tied up in knots long before Grang?'s Gallic version of the Odd Couple join forces in the last quarter of the book. Though the denouement, in which a decades-old megalomaniacal scheme is revealed, strains credibility, Grang?'s fully developed charactersAparticularly second-generation French-Arab AbdoufAkeep the tale firmly anchored in reality. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press; First edition (June 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860466591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860466595
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,112,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Blood-red Rivers is a well written thriller. Not just a storytellers exercise, it is the product of a good writer. If youy did not know the author you would say it is more likely to have come from the pen of a James Lee Bourke than the word processor of John Grisham.
As a thriller it works. Half way through I was unable to see where it was going, and I was still interested and intrigued enough to want to read on and not put it down.
With most books of this type, it is better to travel than to arrive. Often they do not have as satisfactory and consistent an ending as the start and middle. If I have a reservation with the book it is that there is a slightly "deus ex machina" quality to the conclusion. However, this does not take away from the enjoyment of the book.
Would I read it again? I probably would, and that it is not common with many detective novels. I will watch out for M. Grange's works in the future. I do not buy novels on the attractions of the cover. I buy on the quality of the authors and Jean-Christophe Grange is a quality author.
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Format: Hardcover
It is very refreshing to read a modern detective story that uses its French setting so well. The story sends the characters from modern Paris to small villages and from glacial mountains to the coast. The parallel enquiries being carried out by Niemans and Abdouf give the book a good pace and manage to keep the reader inquisitive. In addition, the dark, unsettling atmosphere that prevails adds to the reader's apprehension. Having read the book both in French and in English, it is fair to say that the translation does not do justice to the dialogues, leading to some conversations sounding clichéd (this is always a risk when translating modern, more coarse French). However, this should not spoil the overall pleasure of the book. The film, directed by the talented Mathieu Kassovitz (la Haine)stars Jean Reno in the role of Niemans. If it manages to reproduce the atmosphere and the momentum of the book, it will be a big success.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Despite the tough guy language and enough gratuitous violence to satisfy the likes of any Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal fan, this police procedural set in a university town in the French Alps has a lot going for itself in terms of storyline and interesting plot twists.

The author entwines two separate stories revolving around two police officers--the first showcases veteran police superintendant Pierre Neimans sent to investigate a gruesome mutilation at the famed Guernon University. In a town but a few hours away,renegade police officer, Lt. Karim Abdouf looks into a bizarre desecration of a child's tomb. Grange expertly plaits the information gleaned by the simultaneous investigations and creates an engaging panorama nearly as spectacular as the Alps that look down on this seemingly innocuous example of college life.

Sadly, I don't believe the English translation does this book justice, especially when read by an American audience, as the slang seems to be geared towards a UK market. Nevertheless, this detracts only slightly to Grange's intriguing storyline where he pulls out all the stops, throwing in almost every au courant red herring except for the proverbial butler and kitchen sink.

Recommended to all those who enjoy a good psychological thriller set in a different terrain where the players make use of the exceptional environment and play by a different set of rules.
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