cover image Beyond Suspicion

Beyond Suspicion

Tanguy Viel, , trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale. . New Press, $19.95 (170pp) ISBN 978-1-59558-156-3

While Viel's second contemporary crime novel (after 2003's The Absolute Perfection of Crime ) offers a familiar plot, even jaded mystery readers should be delighted by his elegant prose and minimal story structure. When French appraisers and auctioneers Édouard and Henri Delamare wander into a high-class brothel, both end up smitten with one of its employees, Lise. Henri proposes marriage to Lise, unaware that her “brother,” Sam, is actually her lover. Sam and Lise, who continue their relationship even after the wedding, end up plotting to rip off Henri with a phony kidnapping scheme. The conventions of noir make the outcome of the conspiracy foreseeable, but the beauty of the writing (“the light was streaking and glimmering through the forest, that green and black strength of the trees in serried ranks forming behind him the scenery of his slow progress”) serves as a compelling contrast to the rough-hewn language usually found in bleak tales of despair, betrayal and death. (Mar.)