After the events of the second book, Verhœven is out of action for a while. He returns to work, and a woman becomes part of his new life. Anne Forestier suffers badly from wrong place, wrong time syndrome when she walks into the start of a raid on an upmarket jewelry store in Paris. Beaten and shot, she survives, but seems doomed by being able to recognize her attacker. And the attacker wants to do something about that, even if the poor woman is in hospital with a police guard.
For Verhoeven, this is a call to action – including trampling all over the rulebook – to protect the woman he loves, and hunt down the attacker before it is too late. The action begins, if you will excuse the pun, with a bang, and keeps up a right royal rhythm.
Verhœven’s character carries virtually the whole burden. There are some fine moments of pathos as we are reminded of Verhœven’s relationship with his late mother, and his interactions with the world as an undersized overachiever.
The surrounding characters rarely make a significant impression. Anne Forestier is an exception, as is the loyal policeman Louis. And the glimpses we get inside the attacker’s head are wickedly warped, and entertaining in a truly macabre fashion.
As is usual with this author, the plot doesn’t go, or end up, where you expect, and the surprises are part of the feel good factor. The writing is a joy – kudos again to translator Frank Wynne – in delivering a heartfelt portrayal of love, evil, and endangerment.
If this interests you, do read the books in order to get the best out of them. Then form an orderly queue to petition the author for more Verhœven stories.