cover image Mister Memory

Mister Memory

Marcus Sedgwick. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-68177-340-7

Fin de siècle Paris provides the backdrop for this outstanding thriller from Sedgwick (A Love like Blood), who creates a sense of intimacy with the reader through darkly humorous omniscient narration reminiscent of Dumas (“Paris at that time can be described as a fairy tale; assuming it’s understood that fairy tales are brutish, dark and violent”). One night, Marcel Després, a man with a photographic memory, comes home to his studio apartment to find his wife, Ondine, in bed with a male acquaintance of theirs. The police arrest Marcel soon after he shoots Ondine dead. The motive eliminates the risk of execution, but Insp. Laurent Petit, a dedicated policeman haunted by the death of his fiancée, is shocked when he learns that the murderer has been summarily declared insane and transferred to the asylum of Salpêtrière. Petit’s quest for the truth behind Ondine’s murder coincides with the efforts of Dr. Lucien Morel, an alienist at Salpêtrière, to understand Marcel’s phenomenal gift. Sedgwick thoughtfully explores fundamental questions about the relationship of memory and identity. (Mar.)