In THE READERS' ROOM, author Antoine Laurain skillfully weaves the elements of two mysteries into a complex, intriguing tale, focusing on the readers’ room for a Parisian publishing house and murders that are somehow related.
Violaine LePage, as the editor and director of the readers’ room, manages four readers: Beatrice, Murielle, Stephane, and Marie, whose job it is to read the hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts submitted each year in hopes of being published. The first mystery revolves around a newly published book, Sugar Flowers, nominated for the prestigious Prix Goncourt after Marie identifies its potential. Violaine possesses a signed contract from the author, Camille Desencres, but the author’s identity remains a mystery. And Violaine keeps the fact that she does not know who the author is to herself.
The second mystery involves a double murder being investigated by Detective Inspector Sophie Tanche, of the Rouen regional crime squad. Detective Tanche meets with Violaine to obtain the contact information for Camille Desencres. An explicit description of the crime appears in Sugar Flowers, so the police want to interview the author. Then, a third murder occurs that matches another passage in the book and again, Detective Tanche pushes Violaine for the identity and whereabouts of the author.
Complicating matters is the required appearance of the author at the Prix Goncourt when Sugar Flowers becomes one of the four finalists. Violaine finally admits she does not even know if the author is male or female, again frustrating Detective Tanche.
The characters are well-drawn and Laurain is exceptionally judicious with his narrative while providing a fair amount of detail. THE READERS' ROOM, at only 170 pages in length, completely captivates. Laurain’s consummate storytelling ability challenges and enchants readers throughout this short but edgy novel. This is a read that impresses and remains hard to forget.
Note: This novel is translated from the French original and the team that translated the original did an incredible job. The author's nuanced writing is intact.
When the manuscript of a debut crime novel arrives at a Parisian publishing house, everyone in the readers’ room is convinced it’s something special. And the committee for France’s highest literary honour, the Prix Goncourt, agrees.
But when the shortlist is announced, there’s a problem for editor Violaine Lepage: she has no idea of the author’s identity. As the police begin to investigate a series of murders strangely reminiscent of those recounted in the book, Violaine is not the only one looking for answers. And, suffering memory blanks following an aeroplane accident, she’s beginning to wonder what role she might play in the story ...
Antoine Laurain, bestselling author of The Red Notebook, combines intrigue and charm in this dazzling novel of mystery, love and the power of books.