Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.
French crime novels can be something of an acquired taste, especially if, as here, this 1952 tale reads like a 19th century translation of a minor Russian love story.
But if you disregard the old-fashioned and stilted language you may unearth a fairly interesting story – perhaps even a very interesting story, given that it inspired the wonderful film Les Diaboliques (though it lacks that film’s unforgettable ending).
Weak hubby and domineering mistress conspire to drug and drown his wife for the insurance money. He is barely able to go through with it and falls to pieces afterwards. He can barely believe she’s dead. If you’ve seen Les Diaboliques or are familiar with this kind of Grand Guignol you’ll guess where this plot leads.