The Accident on the A35 – Graeme Macrae Burnet

I bought this because of the publicity material. For examples, see after my review. Everyone said it was a great book, and the author was a wonder. Well, I disagree.

I found it to be a gentle, calm, crime novel. Sort of Agatha Christie set in France without the plot twists or an accumulation of dead bodies. In other words, calm as in flat. (Dead flat?)

The central story is Gorski’s investigation into the apparent death in a road accident of a fine upstanding member of the local community. Gorski is smitten with the grieving widow, and goes out on a limb somewhat.

Gorski, is well drawn and interesting if somewhat feeble in places. His matrimonial situation is not material to the plot, but we get to experience that too. The resolution did not seem realistic to me, and that whole part of the novel was unsatisfactory.

The dead man’s son, Raymond, goes off the rails, and his actions following his father’s death are a parallel thread to Gorski’s investigation. Raymond’s travails are more interesting, but truly that is not saying a lot.

In short, not much happens, the plot is a wispy nothing, and the end was a major let down. On the plus side, there’s Gorski’s character, and not much else.

I was so disappointed. Do not waste your time.

And now for some of the (frankly unbelievable) promotional quotes:

“Highly accomplished, The Accident on the A35 works on several levels… The narration has the simple momentum of classic crime writing… It has a denouement like something out of Greek tragedy but delivers as a proper police procedural too… Burnet’s cleverness doesn’t get in the way of your enjoyment but playfully adds levels of meaning.” Anthony Cummins, Observer

That was not a proper police procedural, Mr. Cummins.

“[A] truly superlative tale… fascinating… one of the most clever and compelling novels to be published this year.” Lesley McDowell, Herald

Not a big reader, Lesley?

“Elegant, craftily written and frequently funny.” Phil Miller, Herald

Were the Herald on commission?

“Extravagant talent.” Mark Lawson, Guardian

Were you reading the same book, Mr. Lawson?

“Both a classy detective story and a stylish meditation on agency and existence. If Roland Barthes had written a detective novel, then this would be it.” Philip Womack, Literary Review

Pretentious bollocks.