September 2013 Indie Next List
“A beautiful woman is kidnapped after leaving a Paris shop and is brutally beaten and suspended from the ceiling in a wooden crate in an abandoned warehouse by a man who tells her he wants to watch her die. Police Commander Camille Verhoeven is assigned to the case after eyewitnesses report the abduction. He is a detective whose tragic past has crippled him but now uses his extraordinary investigative abilities to understand the victim realizing that trying to save her before she dies is only one of the challenges before him and his team. Alex is chilling and frequently horrifying as the plot twists and turns catching the reader by surprise at every turn.”
— Fran Keilty, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT
Upon winning the prestigious 2013 Crime Writers Association International Dagger Award, the judges praised Alex by saying, "An original and absorbing ability to leash incredulity in the name of the fictional contract between author and reader... A police procedural, a thriller against time, a race between hunted and hunter, and a whydunnit, written from multiple points of view that explore several apparently parallel stories which finally meet."
Alex Prevost--kidnapped, savagely beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a tiny wooden cage--is running out of time. Her abductor appears to want only to watch her die. Will hunger, thirst, or the rats get her first?
Apart from a shaky eyewitness report of the abduction, Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on: no suspect, no leads, and no family or friends anxious to find a missing loved one. The diminutive and brilliant detective knows from bitter experience the urgency of finding the missing woman as quickly as possible--but first he must understand more about her.
As he uncovers the details of the young woman's singular history, Camille is forced to acknowledge that the person he seeks is no ordinary victim. She is beautiful, yes, but also extremely tough and resourceful. Before long, saving Alex's life will be the least of Commandant Verhoeven's considerable challenges.
A 2013 "Financial Times" Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the 2014 RUSA Reading List Horror Award.
About the Author
Pierre Lemaitre has worked for many years as a teacher of literature. His novels to date have earned him exceptional critical and public acclaim as a master of the crime novel and have won him the Prix du Premier Roman de Cognac 2006, the Prix du Meilleur Polar Francophone 2009, and the Prix du Polar Europeen du Point 2010. Alex is his first novel to be translated into English, and won the presitigious 2013 Crime Writers Association International Dagger Award. In 2013 Lemaitre was the recipient of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, the highest literary honor in France, for "Au revoir la-haut."
Frank Wynne has translated works by Michel Houellebecq, Boualem Sansal, and many more. He won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2005 for his translation of Frederic Beigbeder's "Windows on the World."
"Before you can say Gone Girl, he discovers the crime is far from random and Alex anything but an ordinary victim. This gritty page-turner, Alex, is the first in a promised trilogy.Plus, s'il vous plaît. A-"-Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly
“An auspicious English-language debut . . . With quiet virtuosity, Lemaitre moves the narrative through its various levels toward a concluding act of retribution that is both ingeniously conceived and immensely satisfying. Tricky, disturbing and ultimately affecting, Alex is a welcome addition to the rising tide of European crime fiction that has followed in the wake of Stieg Larsson’s death. Larsson’s many readers should take this book to their hearts and should find themselves waiting, with some degree of impatience, for the next Verhoeven novel to appear.”— Bill Sheehan, The Washington Post Book World
“An original and absorbing ability to leash incredulity in the name of the fictional contract between author and reader . . . A police procedural, a thriller against time, a race between hunted and hunter, and a whydunnit, written from multiple points of view that explore several apparently parallel stories which finally meet.”—CWA International Dagger Award Judges citation
"Genuinely unpredictable in a way few suspense novels are." —Charles Finch, USA Today
"Lemaitre’s plot is laid out with mathematical precision: a beautiful woman is kidnapped, stripped naked, thrown into a cage and subjected to the systematic torture of a brutal captor . . . Revenge narratives go all the way back to the Greeks, but it’s the vagina dentate component that sets a specimen like Alex apart, as Lemaitre adapts Larsson’s blueprint with moves of his own." —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“Lemaitre’s impressive American debut . . . unexpected plot twists will keep readers turning the pages.”—Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)
"An eloquent thriller with a denouement that raises eyebrows as it speeds the pulse." —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Fascinating . . . filled with many twists and turns of plot along with a huge surprise.”—Connie Fletcher, Booklist
“Will keep you turning pages until well past your bedtime—with all the lights on, of course.”—Library Journal
“What begins as a search for a missing person soon becomes a beguiling series of investigations linked only by Alex, a Parisian version of Lisbeth Salander. Camille, volatile, brilliant and just under 5ft, is an equally riveting figure.”—John Dugdale, The Sunday Times
“Hypnotic . . . [a] remarkably determined and dangerous young woman—a woman who admittedly makes Lisbeth Salander look like Mary Poppins.”—Raven Crime Reads
“The winner of countless French crime-writing prizes, Lemaître is far too canny to join the ranks of thriller authors who merely revel in disturbing details and gory crimes. Where another novel would have finished, Alex is just beginning, and the book moves from read-as-fast-as-you-can horror to an intricately plotted race to a dark truth … There's humour here, and characters to return to, but really Alex is about thrills. And as the novel barrels triumphantly towards its unexpected but satisfying conclusion, it's in this respect that it deliver.”—Alison Flood, The Observer
“Relentlessly gripping . . . Various subtle variations of the crime novel are handled with aplomb . . . By page 200 you may believe that you're moving to a pulse-raising conclusion. But you will be wrong; in some senses, the novel has only just begun.”—Barry Forshaw, The Independent
“[With] a spectacular plot twist and the tension, along with the body count, mounts ever higher – an invigoratingly scary, one-sitting read.”—Laura Wilson, The Guardian
“What sets this work apart from the current crop of crime fiction is how utterly it confounds our expectations and challenges our moral certainties . . . [Alex is] book that will make you think, and one that any game reader will not easily forget.”—Christine Cremen, The Age (Melbourne)
“Fascinating, horrifying, not to be missed.”—Rolling Stone (Italy)
“Both a psychological thriller and a police procedural, it enthralls at every stage of its unpredictability . . . Grippingly original.”— Marcel Berlins, The Times
“A weaver of dark and disturbing crime fiction . . . Lemaître brings his stinging, bitter story to a genuinely unexpected conclusion. We are not in the comfortable world of Inspector Maigret here—this is harsh, fierce crime writing with a Gauloise tinge. It would not be out of place filmed in black-and-white by the late, lamented Francois Truffaut, who loved crime tales like this. ”—Geoffrey Wansell, The Daily Mail
“An off-beat and slightly surreal Parisian mystery . . . A warmly recommended read.”—Jessica Mann, Literary Review
“Lemaître has achieved a milestone with his new novel: half mystery, half thriller, 100 percent successful.”—Jean-Christophe Buisson, Le Figaro
“Divided into three distinct acts [Alex] offers an intriguing structure … Lemaitre is not only providing a fascinating variation of the traditional crime narrative but also a commentary on the genre itself. Hailed as the most important crime novel in translation since Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Alex similarly features as an intriguingly flawed feminist heroine bent on vengeance, and will likely prove a sensation of the crime fiction year.”—Declan Burke, The Irish Times
“Exhilarating, literary, Hitchcockian . . . This new investigation of Commandant Camille Verhoeven resumes with the sense of suspense, the art of the unexpected twist, the play on emotions that so seduced us.”—Le Monde
“I was struck by Pierre Lemaitre’s short, sharp, staccato voice, right from the off. And it makes a gritty, hard-to-read-in-a-good-way tome that much more relentless . . . Paris is a dark, scary, borderline disgusting place, and like the rest of the characters in the book, is not blessed with any romantic flourishes. This is down and dirty, and not for the faint of heart . . . Lemaitre keeps it real, and really keeps it going: it is, I imagine, what it’s like to be in a car chase, in the movies. Kudos as well to the translator, Frank Wynne, who keeps the Gallic tone while perfectly infusing it with English idioms.”—Sue Conley, The Evening Herald (Dublin)
“The torture scenes are enough to make you squirm, with translator Frank Wynne retaining the natural flow of the French language while conveying the horrifying chapters with rats with frightening realism.”—The Herald Sun (Australia)
“Forget Scandi Noir: French noir is where it’s at. With torture scenes that make American Psycho read like Dear Zoo, it even has a Gone Girl-esque twist.”—Shortlist magazine
A top 10 Amazon best books pick, September 2013
"Every so often a crime thriller comes along that leaves you breathless . . . Alex is one such book and you are guaranteed a tale of the unexpected from start to finish. With its mesmerising female protagonist, and unique detective this is an absolute gem of a crime novel that is wonderfully dark, scary, mad, bad and dangerous to know, but just far too good to miss…"—Raven Crime Reads, Top 5 Crime Reads of 2013