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THE FRENCH GIRL
by Lexie Elliott
Berkley, February 2018
294 pages
$26.00
ISBN: 0399586938


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

How well do any of us know each other or ourselves? In THE FRENCH GIRL, Kate Channing has just opened her own legal recruitment business and prides herself on being able to read both people and work environments well enough that she can place candidates successfully. She also thinks she's clear-eyed about herself and her own relationships. But when the bones of a French girl are discovered in a well, everything Kate thinks she knows is thrown into question.

Ten years before the opening of the novel, Kate and five university friends had vacationed in the French countryside in a house next door to Severine, the French girl of the title. At the end of their stay, Severine disappeared, and it's her bones that are discovered, leading French police to question Kate and her friends, implying that one of them murdered Severine. The story is told in first person from Kate's point of view, and the events of the French vacation are revealed in flashes of memory between current-day events. Kate quickly learns that relationships were not what they seemed, undercurrents ran among her friends that she never knew were there and continue to ripple, and long-held assumptions are turned upside down as friends turn against friends, and true colors are shown.

While not an action-filled drama, the book moves at a quick pace, and the murder mystery and psychological puzzles are well portrayed, twisting and twining together to come to a fairly successful, though not entirely surprising, ending. And while the murder is the impetus pushing the plot forward, this is a very character-driven book, and it is the interplay of the characters, both in the past and in the present, and Kate's shifting perceptions of them that makes it interesting. Since it is a first-person narration, the reader gets to know Kate best, and she is interesting enough to want to spend time with. Other characters are less fully fleshed out, but seeing them through Kate's eyes and watching her dawning realization of roles played is intriguing enough to give them substance. Severine herself is so well portrayed that, even dead for a decade, she continues to play a strong role both in the reader's imagination and Kate's world. Overall, both characters and setting (present-day London) are believable, the book is well paced, and the mystery is compelling, making this a captivating read.

Meredith Frazier, a writer with a background in English literature, lives in Dallas, Texas

Reviewed by Meredith Frazier, January 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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