A lonely monastery and a teeming city form the backdrop for a chimerical tale.
A woman identified only as Marion is brought to Mont-Saint-Michel by the DST, France’s CIA, to protect her from an unspecified danger. The religious community install Marion in a tiny cottage and quell her boredom by taking her to the library at Avranches, where, hidden inside the cover of an old book, she discovers a 1928 diary penned by Detective Jeremy Matheson of the Cairo police. Marion is slowly drawn into his tale of a case in which poor children are brutalized by a serial killer in such a horrific manner that Inspector Azim el-Dayim suspects the killer is a mythic creature rather than a living man. The diary details Jeremy and Azim’s hunt for the killer, whom Jeremy, far from an unbiased observer, suspects may be the wealthy man now married to Jeremy’s former lover. Obsessed with the dairy and even a little in love with the charismatic Jeremy, Marion soon confirms that the dairy describes actual murders. As she seeks quiet spots around the Mont to read, several attempts are made to steal the dairy. Past and present collide as Marion debates the true solution of the long-ago mystery with a charming elderly resident of her remote hideaway.
Chattam’s page-turning debut is a riveting tour de force that leaves you wondering: What is truth?