THE AMATEUR AMERICAN by J. Saunders Elmore


Email this review


An American in France learns the hard way that teaching English can be murder.

Everyone wants a piece of young Jeffrey Delanne. He’s pushed into sinister black limos; hauled off to undisclosed locations; and forced into behavior that can only be described as reprehensible. And it’s all shrouded in mystery. Jeffrey’s been minding his business, nose to the grindstone, coping with French high-schoolers who are struggling to master the vagaries of the English language. It’s a job he rather likes, but it doesn’t pay much, so he’s invariably short that break-even franc. Cue the entrance of enigmatic tempter Claude Dreyfus, ostensibly a fellow teacher but actually a Faustian villain who proposes that Jeffrey can smartly rise above the poverty line with a little extracurricular translating. The plan sounds reasonable enough until Jeffrey is introduced to the party of the first part, who happens to be bound and gagged at the time. Soon enough Jeffrey finds himself in deplorable situations of a similar nature—first-timer Elmore loves his torture scenes—and the question arises whether he’ll manage to unravel his mystery. Yes, he says firmly at the denouement. Readers may be less convinced.

A jumble of a plot and a protagonist who generates little sympathy. Give it a pass.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-307-45287-0
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2009