Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review: Asylum: A Mystery by Jeannette de Beauvoir

Asylum: A Mystery
By Jeannette de Beauvoir
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Published: Mar. 10, 2015

Amazon Synopsis:

Martine LeDuc is the director of PR for the mayor's office in Montreal. When four women are found brutally murdered and shockingly posed on park benches throughout the city over several months, Martine's boss fears a PR disaster for the still busy tourist season, and Martine is now also tasked with acting as liaison between the mayor and the police department. The women were of varying ages, backgrounds and bodytypes and seemed to have nothing in common. Yet the macabre presentation of their bodies hints at a connection. Martine is paired with a young detective, Julian Fletcher, and together they dig deep into the city's and the country's past, only to uncover a dark secret dating back to the 1950s, when orphanages in Montreal and elsewhere were converted to asylums in order to gain more funding. The children were subjected to horrific experiments such as lobotomies, electroshock therapy, and psychotropic medication, and many of them died in the process. The survivors were supposedly compensated for their trauma by the government and the cases seem to have been settled. So who is bearing a grudge now, and why did these four women have to die?

Not until Martine finds herself imprisoned in the terrifying steam tunnels underneath the old asylum does she put the pieces together. And it is almost too late for her...in Jeannette de Beauvoir's Asylum.

Book Links

My Thoughts:

What seems to be the work of a serial sex killer doesn’t quite fit the usual modus operandi. The victims are of different ages, don’t look alike and don’t seem to have anything in common. Because the mayor is concerned that Montréal is going to become known as the murder capital of North America, he wants Martine LeDuc, the city’s directrice de publicité (publicity director) to be the liaison between his office and the police director.

Martine was paired with Lieutenant Detective Julian Fletcher. Martine took a more active role in the case than simple liaison when the police seem determined to sweep the entire situation under the rug by indicting a homeless man for the murders.

Martine LeDuc was an interesting character and I found I quite liked her. The story was told from her point of view, with some journal entries of an orphan named Gabrielle from sometime in the 1940-1950’s interspersed throughout. We got to know Martine quite well, and what she thought about the other characters in the book. Martine was a complex character, uncomfortable as a stepmother, with a courageous desire to see that justice was done.

Martine felt very French to me – probably because of the amount of French that the author used in the book. I liked that too. The English translation was given or the context and English equivalent were close enough that high school English were sufficient to confer the meaning of the words. It was nice to be able to read a book and expand a bit on my French skills at the same time.

The mystery of what connects these four women was fascinating and very unexpected. It was actually a lesson in history for me as I had never heard about these events before. I had no idea when I started to read this book that the story was based on real events. The author had obviously done a lot of research on her topic and knew it well. The fictionalize portions meshed with the real events seamlessly to create a book that was truly difficult to put down.

The italicized diary portions that began Asylum: A Mystery and were interspersed throughout the novel were both riveting and horrific. The acts contained within those sections were not just horrible (nothing graphic) but horrific when you realize by the end of the book (be sure to read the Author’s Note) that much of what happened in the those portions were based on actual events from the 1940’s through the 1960’s.

Asylum: A Mystery was fast-paced with many twists and turns in the plot. With the various points of involvement of the Québec government, the Catholic church, the American CIA and pharmaceutical companies, the novel leaves you thinking long after you’ve finished reading it. And as you read some of the names of the minors that they have been able to identify as having died and been buried at Cité de St.-Jean-de-Dieu asylum you’ll be left wondering how it could ever have happened.

If you are looking for a riveting book in the mystery/thriller/suspense genres this one may just be to your liking. I rated it 5 stars out of 5. It will definitely stick with you after you’ve finished it.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Jeannette de Beauvoir is a novelist, poet, and playwright whose work has appeared in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages.

She explores personal and moral questions through different literary genres and is the author, under various pseudonyms, of mystery novels, historical and contemporary fiction, an award-winning book of poetry, and a number of produced plays, as well as teaching workshops and classes in writing.

She grew up in Angers, France, and currently divides her time between Cape Cod and Montréal.

Author Links

No comments :

Post a Comment