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A pair of noir-tinged lovers plot a fake kidnapping, forgetting that “with money things are never fake.”

When wealthy auctioneer Henri Delamare takes a much younger second wife, the only flaws in the perfect wedding are that white may not be the most appropriate color for Lise, whom Delamare plucked from an all-night bar, and that Lise’s brother Sam, the witness who signed the wedding certificate, is really her lover rather than her brother. Fortunately, Viel provides no close-ups of any other wedding guests in conversation, or we’d wonder why they didn’t alert the groom to the bride’s little deception. It isn’t long before Lise and Sam, who last enjoyed each other’s favors during the wedding reception, are plotting an abduction of Lise convincing enough to separate her besotted husband from a million euros. But one thing after another goes wrong, and in the end, Sam has to contend with Delamare’s humorless brother Édouard—mysteriously absent from the wedding but formidably present on the golf course to which the Delamares dragged Sam by way of welcoming him into the family—and indeed with Lise’s own unexpected depths. This tiny tale of lust, betrayal and bad karma is set forth in a series of long, looping sentences, as if Viel (The Absolute Perfection of Crime, 2003, etc.) couldn’t bear to let go of a single portent, metaphor or aperçu without letting it play out to its fullest extent.

Reads like William Faulkner trying his hand at a familiar story in the James M. Cain line.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59558-156-3
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2009


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