cover image Unforgivable


Philippe Djian, , trans. from the French by Euan Cameron. . Simon & Schuster, $24 (213pp) ISBN 978-1-4391-6441-9

Billed as a literary thriller, this clever if downbeat novel from French author Djian (Betty Blue ) is likely to appeal more to mainstream readers than genre fans. Francis, a fussy, 60-year-old writer, and his second wife, who live in a tiny village on France's Atlantic coast, await the arrival of his screen actress daughter, Alice. When Alice fails to show, her husband reveals that she's missing and presumed kidnapped. Unhappy with the police response, Francis hires PI Anne-Marguerite Lémo, who happens to be a casual lover of his from years ago, to look for Alice. Anne-Marguerite's misfit son, Jérémie, who's been recently released from prison, joins the group orbiting the not particularly likable Francis. Djian slowly discloses the story of Alice and Francis in flashbacks and flash forwards, an unusual approach that lends the book much of its interest. The mystery of Alice's disappearance serves mainly as a vehicle for exploring the various personal relationships. (Mar.)