After the Crash - Michel Bussi

12 Jul 2015

There's something about the summer, with its clear blue skies and hot air, that goes so well with a hardback thriller. Throughout the summer months, these chunky, gripping books always sit alongside my sunglasses and ice cream. 

It was my (slightly weird) fascination with plane crashes that made me pick this up whilst meandering around Waterstones (which I tend to do a lot of). I'm not a big fan of flying which seems to mean I'm naturally drawn to seeking out news stories/books/films about plane disasters, reading them with a horrified fascination and increasing my fear of getting on a plane. Somewhere, a psychologist is having a field day. 

After the Crash starts with a dramatic plane crash (given the title, I'd have been disappointed if it didn't). You briefly get a sense of the passengers on board before the plane plunges into some snowy-topped mountains and explodes into a ball of flames. 

Flash forward 18 years and we meet Cr├ędule Grand-Duc, a private detective who is just about to commit suicide, having failed an investigation that started with that plane crash. In front of him is the original newspaper article, and we learn that one person survived the flames; a 3-month-old baby girl. As it turns out, there were two baby girls on that flight and, in a time before DNA testing, when two families step up to claim her, an 18 year long mystery begins. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie? 

Whilst I was immediately drawn in to this novel, I was originally slightly sceptical. The author takes a while to mention that this is supposed to be set before DNA testing was available so I did spend a fair few chapters simply going 'erm, test the DNA?!' However, once I suspended my disbelief, I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could so I could know the answer. The novel flashes between past and present and you witness how the courts settle the question of the baby's identity without a definite answer and how the uncertainty plagues both families for many years to come. So much so, that on Lyse-Rose/Emilie's 18th birthday, several people are still looking for the truth and this kickstarts a race across France which culminates in several big twists.  

If you're looking for a summer thriller, I'd add this to your list.