- Author: B A Spicer
- Kindle Edition: Published by BA Spicer
- Category: Psychological Thriller
Living the dream. It’s a cliché newly free Martha Burton
is doing her best to make come true in Charente Maritime,
where life is good and the sun shines more than in any other part of France.
But darkness lurks in every paradise.
Claude Cousteau is an ordinary-looking man of moderate temperament
and regular habits. Nevertheless, he has set himself a task and nothing
is going to get in his way.
The story opens with Claude Cousteau reliving a time in his childhood when he was helping his father, who was an undertaker, to dress and prepare bodies for viewing. An unhealthy obsession began to take hold of Claude and he had to satisfy his macabre desire to know how it would feel when a person’s life force was extinguished by his hand.
Claude is a man who doesn’t feel the need for friends or relationships and lives a solitary life. The only person who has had an impact on his life is Felix Dumas, the son of his father’s friend. Felix had been kind to the young Claude, and Claude holds Felix in high regard. Now a prominent lawyer, Felix is not above shady dealings but regardless, Claude makes it his business to ‘help’ Felix whenever he can.
It would only be a matter of time before the telephone rang and instruction were issued. After that, it would be up to him to carry out his duty, cleanly and anonymously, making sure that Felix Dumas’ wishes were fulfilled, and allowing the latter to continue his life undisturbed by those who sought to harass him.
Claude is a complex and chilling character, more so because he’s so focused on safeguarding, as he sees it, the person he’s fixated with, whether or not that person wants Claude’s help.
Martha Burton, a British divorcee, has lived in France for almost two years, in the picturesque village of St. Martin-le-Vieux, teaching English. Dissatisfied in her relationship with Michel, and because of her work, she begins to make more friends in the local community. Looking for a special tree for her garden brings her into contact with Guy Roche and his wife, Angeline, which in turn leads to more characters being introduced.
I like the distinctive ‘Frenchness’ of the village, the sense of community, and the convoluted and unexpected way people’s lives can overlap. It was intriguing and I enjoyed the first and last parts of the book, wondering where the story would take me, but for some reason I kept losing concentration and connection with the characters during the middle section. I think perhaps it felt a little slow and didn’t completely work for me. The concluding scenes, however, bring everything to a disturbingly believable conclusion.
This book was reviewed in conjunction with Rosie Amber’s book review team.
I’ve just learned my edition of Undertaker’s Son which is reviewed here has been revised extensively and republished, concentrating particularly on the middle section, and the ending has also been revised. A lot of the slower sections have been cut, and more added about the main protagonist. I’m sure this will resolve the issues I had with that part of the book.
About the author
She has lived in Bridgnoth, Cambridge, Rethymnon (Crete), Mahe (Seychelles), and now lives in Charente Maritime. The next place she wants to explore is probably Spain. Her husband is very tolerant.
She has been a teacher, blackjack dealer for Playboy, examiner, secretary (various sorts – most boringly ‘legal’) and Sunday checkout girl at Tescos.
She loves people, reading, writing, speaking French, astronomy (quantum theory addict), gardening, travelling, and hates housework, cooking, drizzle and honey.
Please take a look at my other books (My Grandfather’s Eyes and Angels) both on Amazon and published under the name B A Spicer.