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Passion Fruit Paperback – August 1, 2001
This month's Book With Buzz: "Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena
In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A thriller packed full of secrets and a twisty story that never stops - from the bestselling author of "The Couple Next Door." See more
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From Publishers Weekly
French author Pennac's fourth foray into Paris's Belleville quarter (The Fairy Gunmother, etc.) falls short of his usual high standard, though it exudes plenty of Gallic charm. Narrator and series hero Benjamin Malaussne, having left his job at Vendetta Press, spends his time trying to comprehend how his sister Thrse, one of his ever-growing "tribe" of half-siblings and Belleville's notoriously accurate fortuneteller, could fall for straight-arrow government councillor Marie-Colbert de Roberval and vice versa. While Thrse prepares for her impending nuptials, Malaussne becomes convinced that Marie-Colbert will end up murdered. Unfortunately, the buildup to Marie-Colbert's foreordained death takes too long, while the allure of the large cast of characters, many fleetingly reintroduced from the author's earlier novels, will escape those readers unfamiliar with them. Although crime solving has never played the lead role in Pennac's books, here he relegates it to a bit part. When Marie-Colbert's body finally turns up, the day after Thrse abandons their honeymoon, the crime is solved so rapidly there's little enjoyment in its unraveling. Moreover, the answer to the question that has plagued Malaussne why Marie-Colbert wanted to marry Thrse is so slapdash that it seems almost an afterthought. Nonetheless, Pennac's distinctive wit more than compensates for the novel's weaknesses as a mystery. (Oct.)Forecast: Unlike the previous three Pennac novels published in the U.S., Harvill has opted to release this one in trade paper, presumably to entice new readers. As self-referential as this book is, only established fans are likely to bite.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
"Fast-paced, stylish and hugely entertaining, a mixture of crime spoof and the stock-in-trade of fairy tale . . ." -- David Coward, The Times Literary Supplement
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