In Doolaege’s (Candlepower, 2012) supernatural mystery, a musician seeks a translator’s help to solve the mystery of a ghost who haunts him in the Paris Metro.
Kay Lemoine, a translator working in Paris, receives a frightened call from French busker Ludovic Perec, who asks her to translate a letter that his friend Harriet gave to him on the day of her death. The letter was intended for Perec’s ex-girlfriend, Melissa, but Harriet inexplicably died in the Metro just as she was about to hand it to Perec. He says that he suspects he knows the letter’s contents, but his English is too poor for him to be certain. The mystery deepens when Kay translates the letter and discovers that its vitriolic contents are directed at Melissa, who Kay admires due to her talent as a musician. This admiration leads Kay to investigate further, drawing her into Perec and Melissa’s tangled relationship and that of the late Harriet and her husband, Daniel. Perec starts to regularly see Harriet’s ghost and starts to deteriorate from the strain. Kay meets with Daniel to learn more about his enigmatic, artistic late wife, and he reveals details about their contentious marital relationship, which was worsened by the presence of Harriet’s cat, which Daniel claims Harriet loved more than anything else on earth. Kay eventually uncovers a complex tale of jealousy and deceit. Doolaege provides an absorbing story with effective atmosphere and clearly defined characters. Unfortunately, the novel places its cast of strong personalities into an awkwardly constructed storyline, which introduces a range of possible resolutions to the characters’ conflicts but never settles on a single, main thread to tie everything together. The novel’s oblique references to witchcraft, psychic phenomena and strange illnesses only serve to muddy the waters as it heads toward a blurry, unsatisfying conclusion.
A richly detailed but flawed story of ghosts, lies and love.