cover image The Double Mother

The Double Mother

Michel Bussi, trans. from the French by Sam Taylor. Europa, $18 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-1-60945-519-4

Why would precocious preschooler Malone Moulin insist that his parents weren’t his parents? School psychologist Vasily Dragonman brings that conundrum to the attention of Capt. Marianne Augresse, a Le Havre police officer, in this brilliantly twisty mystery from French author Bussi (Don’t Let Go). When Dragonman first met Malone, the boy claimed that he remembers a life before living with Dimitri and Amanda Moulin. These vague memories, which include pirates and a rocket, strike Augresse as nothing more than childish fantasies, however. Dragonman’s belief that Malone is being truthful when the three-year-old says his stuffed animal, Gouti, tells him stories about his past doesn’t help the psychologist’s effort to get the police to investigate, especially in the absence of any evidence that Malone was being mistreated. While the single captain finds the psychologist personally appealing, she prioritizes the search for a wounded bank robber, until she gets a dramatic indication that Dragonman was on the right track. Fans of Fred Vargas’s bizarre yet logical plots and complicated leads will be eager to seek out more of Bussi’s work. (Apr.)