My favourite crime fiction author of the moment is Pierre Lemaitre, a French writer. For those of you who are fans of crime fiction (French it call “Polar”), I strongly recommend you read his books. Pierre Lemaitre writes only in French. However, some of his more famous works have been translated into English.
I came across him only the end last year when my husband happened to buy his Prix Goncourt (France’s top literary prize)-winning book, Au Revoir Là-Haut (The Great Swindle – English translation). The book talks about how the paths of two French soldiers crossed during First World War, and what happened after. It has nothing to do with the typical crime fiction. Even with my half-baked French, I could appreciate his writing style, the storyline, and the sense of humour.
After this initial encounter, I dug into his background and realised that he actually started out as a crime writer, with his first book, Travail Soigné (English translation – Irene) published in 2006. I bought this book, and fell in love with Le Commissaire (Police Commissioner) Camille Verhœven, the short in height (145cm) but sharp in mind French protagonist.
After realising that this book is the first of a trilogy, I purchased, and devoured the remaining two books (Alex) and Sacrifices (English translation – Camille) in a couple of weeks (it usually takes me a couple of months to finish reading a French book…). With more than 30 years of “crime-reading” experience (starting with Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven and The Famous Five books), I could say that Pierre Lemaitre is one of the best crime fiction authors I have come across. When you read his book, you can always assume that the most obvious evidence does not always lead you to the real killer.
I am surprised that Pierre Lemaitre has not enjoyed a higher level of success among the anglophone readers. Frankly, if it’s not because I am learning French, and that I am in the phase of exploring the French literary world, I do not think I would have come across his books.
Who are your favourite crime fiction authors?