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What an intriguing tease this is! For a start The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau isn’t Graeme Macrae Burnet’s follow-up to His Bloody Project (reviewed by me last year), but his first novel which never received much acclaim outside Scotland. It should have.
It’s a Simenon-esque murder mystery focused on the psychology rather than the act set in Saint-Louis, an undistinguished little town on the Rhine where loner Manfred Baumann has his lunch each day in the Restaurant de la Cloche whilst idly lusting after the amply proportioned waitress Adèle Bedeau. When Adèle disappears, the local detective suspects Manfred of murder, even though there’s as yet no body.
There are good reasons for his suspicions, but not the ones you might expect. The past lives of both Manfred and the detective are chillingly fleshed out, but just when you think it’s all about to be solved, there’s another clever twist.
And finally the real-life author comes in and says the whole story is his translation of a 1980s French cult novel by the teasingly anagramatic Raymond Brunet, and we get Brunet’s life which is uncannily like Baumann’s…
Puzzling, tantalising, intriguing, highly original, intelligent, it’s a top-rate listen, and the whole is enhanced by the narration.
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