28 October 2014

Tanguy Viel: Insoupçonnable (2006)

Tanguy's Viel's books are marked by long, tortuous sentences. In the first sentence of Insoupçonnable (lit. 'Above Suspicion'), for example, the first sentence – which is also the first paragraph – is seventy words long. It describes a wedding table, emphasising the light on it.

Light is very important to Viel, whose novels are much influenced by the cinema. In an interview with Thierry Guichard in Matricule des anges (No. 71, March 2006), Viel says that he sees the cinema first of all as a 'reservoir of images, décors, characters, tableaux' that encourage him to write. He is fascinated by the 'inhumanity' of the movie camera, and strives to create a similar effect through his writing.

Several critics have seen the suspense in Viel's books as Hitchcockian, and the author is certainly a fan of the master of suspense. In Insoupçonnable Lise works as a hostess in a bar on the coast, but unlike the other girls refuses to sleep with any customer. She lives with Sam, until a client twice her age – the fifty-year-old, rich auctioneer Henri Delamare – asks her to marry him: at this point Sam becomes her 'brother'. The couple see the marriage as a chance to fulfil their dreams of going to the States. Kidnapping is their plan.

But the 'kidnap' is of Lise, for whose return the pair want one million euros. Henri doesn't inform the police and goes to the arranged meeting point, it's discovered that he's only brought blank papers instead of notes, so he has to be killed and dumped into the sea. Amazingly, the cops don't track the guilty pair down, although Henri's mysterious brother Édouard is on their trail.

The game is finally given away by Sam's Panama hat, an object which takes on a tremendous importance. And it is the selling back of the hat to Sam – by Édouard, by auction – that buys the couple's 'freedom' at the expense of Édouard taking Lise from him.

Links to my other Viel posts:

Tanguy Viel: Paris-Brest
Tanguy Viel: L'Absolue perfection du crime

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