Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre translated by Frank Wynne @maclehosepress #ThreeDaysandaLife #damppebbles

three days and a life“Antoine is twelve years old. His parents are divorced and he lives with his mother in Beauval, a small, backwater town surrounded by forests, where everyone knows everyone’s business, and nothing much ever happens. But in the last days of 1999, a series of events unfolds, culminating in the shocking vanishing without trace of a young child. The adults of the town are at a loss to explain the disappearance, but for Antoine, it all begins with the violent death of his neighbour’s dog. From that one brutal act, his fate and the fate of his neighbour’s six year old son are bound forever.

In the years following Rémi’s disappearance, Antoine wrestles with the role his actions played. As a seemingly inescapable net begins to tighten, breaking free from the suffocating environs of Beauval becomes a gnawing obsession. But how far does he have to run, and how long will it take before his past catches up with him again?

Translated from the French by Frank Wynne”

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog. I am delighted to be sharing my review of Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre (translated by Frank Wynne) with you today. Three Days and a Life was published in the UK by Maclehose Press in May 2018 and is available in all formats. I received a free ARC of Three Days and a Life but that has in no way influenced my review.

I have read several of Pierre Lemaitre’s earlier novels and loved them. Alex and Blood Wedding come to mind in particular. But I have also read Irène and Camille which are part of The Paris Crime Files trilogy along with Alex, featuring Commandant Camille Verhœven. They are excellent books and I heartily recommend them all. I’m a huge fan of translated crime fiction so this author and his books tend to be on my go-to list of authors. Saying that, I’ve had Three Days and a Life sat on my shelf for a little while which is strange as it was one of the books I was most excited about when I received it in a goodie bag.

Antoine is a fairly ordinary 12-year-old boy living a fairly ordinary life in a small French town. One fateful day his life takes a dramatic turn and he ends up as part of the most interesting event to have happened in Beauval, the disappearance of 6-year-old Rémi Desmedt. Crowds of people converge to find the boy, teams go out searching day and night but no trace of Rémi is found. Speculation is rife, rumours spread but no one seems to know where Rémi is. No one apart from Antoine…

Three Days and a Life is a slow and intricate unravelling of a well-drawn individual which I found to be highly compelling reading. This is not a novel full of twists and turns and that made me love it just that little bit more. Three Days and a Life shines a spotlight on a character I started out feeling a great deal of sympathy for. Then gradually through the years, the pressure of past events, of secrets hidden, begin to mould and shape the young boy into a rather frustrating young man.

The majority of this book is set over the three days of Rémi’s disappearance. But the tendrils – the secrets and lies – of those fateful days reach far into the future and that’s what I found so appealing about this novel. Antoine is forever looking over his shoulder, waiting for news, waiting to be discovered. The unease and the dread the character feels is palpable. As he matures, his need to escape the small town of Beauval becomes almost obsessive but those tendrils keep digging in, pulling him back.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Three Days and a Life is a compelling character study which I absolutely flew through. A suffocating and claustrophobic piece of well-written fiction. I found Antoine to be such an interesting character and felt I was there with him every step of the way. Elegantly written and beautifully subtle in its tone, you’ll struggle to put this one down once you pick it up. Recommended.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Three Days and a Life. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre (translated by Frank Wynne) was published in the UK by Maclehose Press on 3rd May 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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pierre lemaitrePierre Lemaitre is a French novelist and screenwriter.

Awards: Prix du premier roman du Festival de Cognac 2006 pour Travail soigné – Prix Le Point du polar européen pour Cadres Noirs – Meilleur polar francophone 2009 au Salon de Montigny pour Robe de marié

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Frank Wynne was born in 1962 and grew up in Strandhill, Co. Sligo. His father – with T R Henn and others – was among the founding members of the Yeats Summer School in Sligo in 1959, and was President of the school until his death. Through the Summer School, Wynne was introduced to literary figures (whose lectures he recorded with a tape recorder), among them Richard Ellmann and Seamus Heaney

In 1984 he moved to Paris, where he stayed for three years. He moved to London in 1987, at first managing a small French bookshop in Kensington, which sold, among other things, graphic novels. Wynne became involved in the bandes dessinées movement in London and was hired to work on Revolver. From there he moved to Crisis before becoming managing editor of Deadline magazine, home of Tank Girl.

After the demise of Deadline in 1994-5, in part through the badly received film version of Tank Girl, he worked for a time as editorial director of AOL UK.
“I was employee number seven in AOL UK. I went from being the youngest person in every company I had worked for to being the second-oldest person in AOL.”
After he left AOL, he began translating the works of Michel Houellebecq. He now dedicates his time fully to writing and translations.

He describes himself as being of “no fixed abode”, having lived and travelled widely in Central and South America, the Netherlands, Hungary, Turkey, Ireland and the UK.
He has worked as a literary translator for many years translating the novels of Michel Houellebecq. He jointly won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award with Houellebecq for Atomised, his translation of Les Particules élémentaires. He has subsequently translated Houellebecq’s novels Platform and Lanzarote, together with novels by Pierre Mérot, Frédéric Beigbeder and the late Ivoirian novelist Ahmadou Kourouma.

His translation of Frédéric Beigbeder’s Windows on the World, a novel set in the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York during the September 11, 2001 attacks, won the 2005 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. He also won the 2008 Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for his translations of Beigbeder’s Holiday in a Coma and Love Lasts Three Years.

Wynne also translated a number of French bandes dessinées, including graphic novels by Enki Bilal, Lorenzo Mattotti, Max Cabanes and Édika. His first non-fiction book, I Was Vermeer, a biography of Han van Meegeren was published by Bloomsbury in August 2006. Between 1938 and 1944 van Meegeren forged seven paintings, passing them off as lost masterpieces by Vermeer. The works were authenticated by some of the finest art critics in Europe, among them Abraham Bredius, who acclaimed Van Meegeren’s forgery The Supper at Emmaus as “one of – I would go so far as to say * the* masterpiece by Johannes Vermeer of Delft”. Wynne’s biography, I was Vermeer has been serialised as the BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week” (read by Anton Lesser) for August 7–12, 2006.

#BookReview: Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica (translated by Sarah Moses) @PushkinPress #TenderIsTheFlesh #damppebbles

tender is the flesh.jpg“It all happened so quickly. First, animals became infected with the virus and their meat became poisonous. Then, governments initiated the Transition. Now, ‘special meat’ – human meat – is legal.

Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans only no one calls them that. He works with numbers, consignments, processing. One day, he’s given a gift to seal a deal: a specimen of the finest quality. He leaves her in his barn, tied up, a problem to be disposed of later.

But the specimen haunts Marcos. Her trembling body, her eyes that watch him, that seem to understand. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost – and what might still be saved…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am thrilled to be sharing my review of one of the most hypnotic books I have read in a long, long time with you. I saw Tender is the Flesh mentioned a couple of times on Twitter and it instantly got it’s (meat) hooks into me. I couldn’t help myself and pre-ordered the book immediately. This is the type of fiction I love; brutal, powerful and thought-provoking.

I should probably mention at this point that I read this book as soon as it was published (a few months ago) and the fact that a virus infects the World’s animals seemed, at the time, to be nothing more than fiction. Anything involving a virus these days has a slightly different…perspective (?) to it, but I know I would still have read this book and still loved it as much as I do. Because it’s a bloody awesome book and if you’ve got a strong stomach and like the darker side of fiction then this is a must read!

So the big question here is…would you? Would you eat human flesh if that was the only available meat for you to consume? It’s unthinkable, right? Tender is the Flesh makes the reader ask themselves some pretty hefty questions and looks at the situation from some very interesting angles. To put things into context, the humans on the menu aren’t like you or I. They’re bred, farmed and processed the same way livestock is. They’re nameless, they’re nothing but protein. But….but…but…they’re still people, right? And that’s the brilliant hook which this stonking piece of fiction rests on. It’s absolutely impossible to comprehend. But that’s exactly what pulled me into the pages of this incredible book.

Marcos works at the local processing plant. The reader discovers that after so many years of watching and partaking in horrifically violent acts that Marcos has become somewhat desensitised to the brutality of it all. He’s a heavily flawed character, having recently separated from his wife, but I found myself warming to him as the story progressed. When an illegal gift on a Female FGP (First General Pure) is delivered to his house, he doesn’t know what to do with it (her!).

This really is an eye opener of a book and I devoured it (pun intended). I was nearing the end of the novel and I couldn’t for the life of me work out where the author was going to take things, how it was all going to be wrapped up. But it’s absolutely perfect and as a result, this book will stay with me for a long time to come. I expect it will feature in my top books of the year list.

Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely, but it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s savage, brave, unsettling and utterly unflinching fiction at it’s very best. The way the ‘special meat’ is treated is inhumane and stomach churning and makes me question the way livestock is treated. Vegetarianism could be the way forward for me following this novel! If you’re looking for a book which is dark, disturbing and wholly involving then this is it. Bazterrica does not spare her reader and I absolutely loved it! Highly recommended. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Tender Is The Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica was published in the UK by Pushkin Press on 6th February 2020 and is available in digital format. Paperback copies are available via Waterstones, Foyles and Book Depository (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | WaterstonesFoyles | Book DepositoryGoodreads |

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Agustina Bazterrica is an Argentinian novelist and short-story writer. She is a central figure in the Buenos Aires literary scene, co-curating the event series ‘Siga al Conejo Blanco’ and coordinating reading workshops. She has received several awards for her writing, most notably the prestigious Premio Clarín Novela for her second novel, Tender is the Flesh, which has sold in eight languages.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (@JoGustawsson) trans. Maxim Jakubowski @OrendaBooks #Keeper #FrenchNoir #RoyandCastells

KEEPER COVER COVER AW.jpeg“Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. 

London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before. 

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? 

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Keeper blog tour which I share with the wonderful The Book Review Cafe.  Keeper is the second book in the Roy & Castells series written by Johana Gustawsson and is published in paperback by Orenda Books later this month (nothing to stop you from grabbing a copy of the eBook now though!).

I read the first book in the series, Block 46 last year.  I really liked it, many others absolutely loved it and it made regular appearances on the ‘top books of 2017’ lists.  Rightly so.  Knowing this added to the pre-read build up for me.  I was excited, expectant and a little apprehensive.

For those new to Gustawsson’s books, they are set in the present day (if you can call 2015 present!) but with a historical twist to them.  The story’s tentacles reach back in time to real-life crimes.  The reader gets to see how the evil of the past affects and manipulates the evil of the present.  It’s a highly original concept, one that I haven’t found elsewhere and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I bow down to those that are able to write convincing fiction, but I grovel on the floor before those that include a fair amount of accurate historical fact (I assume it’s accurate by the way, I am certainly no historian!).  In Block 46 we had the despicable and abhorrent treatment prisoners of war were subjected to by the detestable Nazi’s.  In Keeper, we are plunged into the world of the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.  Now I’m no Ripperologist but Jack the Ripper has always fascinated me.  I’ve read a few books on the subject, some fact and some fiction.  As far as the fictional ones go, this is by far the best.

I adored this book.  Plain and simple.  If Keeper doesn’t make it to my top three books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.  Regular visitors to the blog will be fully aware that I like my crime thrillers a little more on the dark side.  Keeper is one heck of a dark read.  Picture the scene, there I was merrily reading away thinking to myself, ‘yup, it’s another good one – probably four stars at the moment but we’ll see how things go’.  Then all of a sudden Gustawsson stepped things up a notch (or two).  My jaw hit the table and I was utterly smitten with the author’s story.  One of those, ‘WOAH’ moments that I absolutely live for.

Keeper will take you places you never expected.  It’s exactly the kind of novel I want to read and it’s going to stay with me for a very, very long time.  My love for Emily Roy has grown.  She’s such a likeable oddball character.  She does have competition for my affections though as I also really liked intern, Aliénor Lindbergh.  Such an interesting character and I hope we see more of her in the future.  The dynamic between the two characters really worked for me.

I also love the international flavour of Gustawsson’s books.  The reader gets taken on a whirlwind journey from London to Falkenberg in Sweden, and back again.  The characters also bring a welcome international flair to proceedings.  For example, at one point Alexis Castells is having a dreaded ‘meet the parents’ moment (her parents are meeting her partner).  They don’t all speak the same language so some are conversing in English, others in Swedish, her parents are chatting in French and there’s a bit of Spanish thrown in for good measure too.  One of my favourite scenes in the book.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  Strong characters, astonishing twists and really quite perfect.  There’s not a single thing I can think of that I didn’t like, and that’s saying something!  Totally gratifying, deliciously dark and WHAT a thrill-ride.  Yeah, I loved this one.  You really should read Keeper.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Keeper.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (trans. Maxim Jakubowski) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 28th April 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please be aware the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Johana PhotoBorn in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Blue Night by Simone Buchholz (@ohneKlippo) Trans. by Rachel Ward (@FwdTranslations) @OrendaBooks #BlueNight

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“After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble.

However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital – almost every bone in his body broken, a finger cut off, and refusing to speak in anything other than riddles – Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in. Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs.

When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived…

Fresh, fiendishly fast-paced and full of devious twists and all the hard-boiled poetry and acerbic wit of the best noir, Blue Night marks the stunning start of a brilliant new crime series, from one of Germany’s bestselling authors.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop (and the penultimate stop) on the Blue Night blog tour which I share with author and blogger, Nic Parker. Blue Night is the first in a new series from established German crime fiction author, Simone Buchholz and was published by Orenda Books in paperback on 28th February 2018.

If you don’t already know, I am a HUGE fan of German crime fiction. Huge. I seek it out whenever possible (or at least when the TBR isn’t too mountainous). German crime fiction and, strangely, Japanese crime fiction too. I don’t like to follow the herd with your Nordic Noir, oh no – not me (although I do love Nordic Noir as well!)! So when I heard one of my very favourite publishers was about to release a novel written by a German author and translated into English, I had to read it. Orenda Books and German crime fiction – it was like a dream come true for me!

So what did I think? I really enjoyed it. I loved our main protagonist, Chastity Riley. She’s obviously a bit of a tough nut having previously convicted her superior of corruption and blasted the dangly bits from a poor and unfortunate gangster. Having been demoted after her escapades to the Public Prosecutors Office and to the *yawn* role of Victim Protection, Chastity is starting to stagnate. Things start to look up however when she meets a mysterious man in a Hamburg hospital. Granted he’s had nearly every bone in his body broken, he’s missing a finger and he’s not much of a talker but Chastity is intrigued. After all, it’s her job to protect him. Using somewhat unsuitable bribes for a man so close to death, she manages to get the victim talking and before long Chastity is on the case, hunting down a supplier of deadly drugs to the Hamburg area and beyond.

There’s a real unease to this tale which I thoroughly enjoyed. A gritty, hard edge noir which appealed to my darker side. I also liked that Chastity was surrounded by a slightly flawed group of friends who all looked out for one another. Themes of friendship really ran quite deep for me in this novel, and I liked it! But then, Chastity is my kind of protagonist. She’s a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine. Knows her right from her wrong and will do absolutely everything she can to make sure the path to justice is taken. I’m really very excited about this series and look forward to reading more about Chastity Riley in the future.

One thing I will say (actually two things but bear with me!), this is a quicker than average read as there are only 276 pages in the paperback version. The perfect book for a snowy (or sunny if you’re reading this after the cold snap we had at the end of February/beginning of March!) weekend some may say. I initially had a couple of small issues with some of the formatting in this book which left me feeling a little confused at times. It was only a matter of getting used to the characters, their names, the timeframe and the way these short passages are presented to the reader though. By the end of the novel, it wasn’t an issue for me at all.

Would I recommend this book? I would. Particularly if you’ve ever fancied giving German noir a go – I think Blue Night would be the perfect place to start. Gripping, ominous and delightfully edgy. I can’t wait to meet up with Chastity Riley again soon. For a shorter than average novel, it really packs one heck of a punch!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Blue Night. The above review is my own unbiased opinion. My thanks to Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for providing with a review copy.

Blue Night by Simone Buchholz (translated by Rachel Ward) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 28th February 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Simone Buchholz Picture.jpg

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

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Having always been an avid reader and enjoyed word games and puzzles, I discovered a flair for languages at school and went on to study Modern Languages at the University of East Anglia. I spent my third year working as a language assistant at two grammar schools in Saarbrücken, Germany. During my final year, I realised that I wanted to put these skills and passions to use professionally and applied for UEA’s MA in Literary Translation. Since then, I have been working in Norwich, UK, as a freelance translator of literary and creative writing from German and French to English.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

Rachel Ward bio and image © http://www.forwardtranslations.co.uk/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com