Sunday, January 10, 2016

After the Crash

by Michael Bussi
Hachette    2015
376 pages     Mystery

After the Crash by Michael Bussi is pure mystery-lovers' escapism—implausible but intriguing at the same time. The events of the book occur in the 1980s and 1990s, and the story is all woven together by a report written by a private investigator, Credule Grand-Duc,  eighteen years after the crash of an airliner in the Jural mountains in 1980. 

The plane had been on a trip from Istanbul to Paris. On the plane were two families with infant daughters, Emilie and Lyse-Rose; one returning to a rich family and the other returning to a working class family. Only one infant survives and captures the media's attention as "the miracle baby", but it is impossible to deduce which of the two babies has survived. The de Carville family (the rich grandparents, of course) hire Grand-Duc to use whatever means possible to solve the mystery within 18 years. Much of the novel evolves in 1998 as the eighteen years end. Lyse-Rose's sister, Malvina de Carville, and Emilie's brother, Marc Vitral, have spent much of their lives also trying to solve the mystery. The surviving girl is now affectionately called Lylie, a combination of both babies' names, and she is the first to to receive Grand-Duc's report. She then promptly disappears, and the reader doesn't know until the end of the book where she has gone.

You ask, "Why didn't they just use DNA testing to prove which girl survived?" Well, Grand-Duc did conduct the test, after the test was developed, but much of the plot takes place before the DNA test was invented. The mystery is perplexing, which is what makes this novel so attractive; the reader is completely caught  up in trying to figure things out, and the author leaves little clues that worry the reader's brain until the mystery is solved. It is the story of class, family ties, love, and obsession.

Bussi is a French writer and professor.After the Crash is his first international success and the first of his novels to be translated into English. (The translator is Sam Taylor). This book has sold nearly one million copies and appeared in American book stores this week. 
He is quite well known in France but

The headline in the Boston Globe review says "it's best to just enjoy the ride," and I would agree. There is much that is implausible. "Parts of “After the Crash” have elements of over-the-top Gothic melodrama, evoking everything from V.C. Andrews’s “Flowers in the Attic” to cheesy horror movies, but Bussi’s tucked a lot of enjoyable — and enjoyably surprising — pieces into his puzzle as well, making the novel a drawn-out, page-turning tease." I do have to mention that I was disappointed in the ending. I felt that Bussi rushed the conclusion. The ride had left me completely drained, and as I closed the book, I sighed and felt totally let down. Was it still a fun ride? Absolutely.

 Early on in my reading of After the Crash, I was reminded of a plane crash novel that I read several years ago, The Three, by Sarah Lotz. Although a bit more apocalyptic, The Three is chilling reading and equally as interesting. Check it out as well. 

 The review in the Boston Globe.

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