The Lying-Down Room
By Anna Jaquiery
Published by Mantle
Available in Hardback and ebook
Paperback is forthcoming
The great thing about book reviewing is that you might be sent a book in a genre your would not normally read and it turns out to be a fantastic read. The Lying-Down Room by Anna Jaquiery falls into this category. I don't normally review crime but when the chance came up recently to get my hands on an advanced copy I said yes. It was time to try something new and I'm glad I did.
The Lying-Down Room, the first novel in the psychological crime series, tells the story of Commandant Serge Morel, who can only piece together the clues of the crime as he does origami in the early hours of the morning with a glass of red wine as his side during the sticky, stifling summer heat of Paris.
Elderly women are being targeted and murdered in a strange way. First they are 'baptised' in the bath and drowned. Afterwards the murderer, whilst listening to the soundtrack of Faure's Requiem is covering them in make-up and putting on a red wig, before placing them into their bed. The only clues that link together the murders is a man and a young boy, handing out religious pamphlets a couple of days before the murder.
The investigation into the murders is an important plot line but for me the most enjoyable part of this story was the characterisation. Jaquiery had chapters told from the viewpoint of Morel as well as the main suspect. We learn through these chapters that none of the characters are what they seem. There is no clear-cut 'goodies' and 'badies' even the people investigating the case operate on the edges of the law. Morel watches his ex-wife from a distance, observing her every day life as well as having an affair with his friend's wife and one of his officers, Lila tries to involve herself with the domestic matters of one of the victim's family.
This book isn't simply about the police investigating a murder. There are many strands to this novel and Jaquiery explores these with great detail. As well as exploring the morals of the crime and its affects on the investigation team and the families, The Lying-Down Room also explores the prejudices of small communities around homosexuality, the attitudes in Russia to mental health and orphans and also the way society treats the elderly.
The Lying-Down Room isn't a book full of twists, turns and car chases but, instead slowly unravels. This is an absorbing read, and do you know what - I think I'll definitely read the second in the series.
The Lying-Down Room is available from your favourite bookshop.
I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher.