Review Blog

Oct 31 2016

Black water lilies by Michel Bussi

cover image

Translated by Shaun Whiteside. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016. ISBN 9781474601757
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Mystery. Art. The beautiful setting of Giverny, the home of Claude Monet was what first caught my attention, and once I started reading, the complexity of the story was totally engrossing. Jerome Morval has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens. He has a postcard of Monet's painting of Water Lilies with the words 'Eleven years old. Happy Birthday' in his pocket. Entwined in the mystery are three women: an old widow who watches everything, a beautiful school teacher and a young girl who is an exceptionally talented artist.
The setting of Monet's garden is beautifully depicted, and the reader has a wonderful time imagining not just its wonders, but also the havoc that constant tourists can have on the small French village. The reader also gets to learn much about art, art awards and art collections which is a boon for anyone who enjoys learning about famous paintings and artists. The theme of the painting of black water lilies winds its way through the whole book, making its presence a second mystery in addition to the murders.
The mystery itself is very complex but the lives of the interesting characters seem so real that it is easy to become totally immersed in the story. And the final revelations were certainly a surprise to me, making the story even more engrossing as I had to go back through all the clues and think about all the implications of the murder.
This is an outstanding detective story, with a wonderful location and exceptional prose. It is one not to be missed by lovers of the mystery genre.
Pat Pledger

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