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The Executioner Weeps (Pushkin Vertigo) Paperback – April 18, 2017
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"With their tight plots, the stories are particularly cinematic, and film-makers are already showing interest. Dard also wrote screenplays and plays. Their revival could be just around the corner." — The Observer
"A tragedy is inevitable, but the form it takes is hidden until the last gasp-inducing pages…a book that calls for tight nerves and a stiff drink." — Daily Mail
"No question: for me, he was the greatest." - Philippe Geluck
"His language is cutting, his point-of-view original and his verdict uncompromising... One of the few twentieth-century authors to win both critical acclaim and great popularity." - Solidarité Militaire
"The literary descendant of Simenon and Celine." - Le Figaro
"France's most popular post-war author." - L'Express
"searing, dark and economical … Dard … expertly blends glossy thrills, social commentary and escapist lust." — Hits the Fan blog
"Fine, successful and compelling melodramatic crime noir." — International Crime Fiction blog
About the Author
Frédéric Dard (1921-2000) was one of the best known and loved French crime writers of the twentieth century. Enormously prolific, he wrote more than three hundred thrillers, suspense stories, plays and screenplays, under a variety of noms de plume, throughout his long and illustrious career, which also saw him win the 1957 Grand prix de littérature policière for The Executioner Cries.
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A French artist living in Catalonia hits a young woman with his car one night, and smashes her violin. She is not seriously injured, but she has amnesia. The artist becomes increasingly obsessed with her, and begins digging into her past. Meanwhile (of course) the past is rushing up to meet him. In the beginning, the story focuses on the psychology of the artist, which seems start imposing itself on the woman. However, the woman has some strong blocks. As the artist learns more about the source of those blocks, the interest shifts to the psychology of the woman, which now seems to be taking over the artist. A folie à deux duel.
As a mystery, it is adequate, a solid three star book. Lots of good color and a tight psychological plot, but it never feels in the least bit real. There are some first-rate paranoid action scenes, but on the whole the story only oozes forward, and doesn't seem to have a direction other than deeper into the two main characters' minds. The secondary characters are wooden, the dialog pedestrian. It reads like an imitation by an author who doesn't have a deep understanding of the original, and has the wrong kind of talent for the job. On the plus side, it has both a terrific climax and a very different great ending.
I move it up to four stars for the light it shines on how at least one French person understood the hard-boiled school. He got the right idea for the plot, but lets far too much of it be driven by soft-boiled romantic dreaming about the meaning of painting and music. His narrator spends a lot more time thinking about food and wine than Lew Archer ever did. There's no hint of the freedom of Los Angeles or America in general, the major and minor characters seemed trapped in social roles that were largely determined by birth.
I recommend it as an adequate semi-hard-boiled psychological mystery that has added interest from the Gallic spice.