First published in French, this thriller follows three-and-a-half-year-old Malone, who claims his mother is not his real mother, sparking the school psychologist to investigate with police commander Marianne Augresse.
Bussi’s latest is the gripping The Double Mother, which may set a record for number of plot twists between two covers ... Bussi is one of those thriller writers who heightens suspense by shifting from one character’s viewpoint to another with calculated aplomb. Fortunately, he draws his characters so well that we don’t mind being wrenched away from Malone in crisis, say, to Marianne in consternation. The author himself comments archly on all this back-and-forth ... other slabs of disparate material will soon be fitted into place, especially in the novel’s final hundred pages, and what a pleasure it is to be a construction-site rubbernecker. A long book that goes quickly, The Double Mother, zestily translated by Sam Taylor, is likely to stay in your mind for years to come, even if you don’t have a stuffed animal to coach you.
Yes, it's the classic glimpse-of-the-dramatic-ending-tease approach to thriller-writing (which, unfortunately no one ever nipped in the bud and, now endemic to the genre, readers have to put up with again and again and yet again). Sure, it helps introduce some of the characters and many of the significant elements of the mystery at the heart of the novel—and forces tension into the story, from the get-go; still, Bussi is certainly good enough a writer—and thriller-plotter—that he shouldn't have to fall back on this most tired (so, so tired) of over-used devices. So, yes, after this *exciting* opening chapter the story jumps back, to four days earlier, and then proceeds deliberately and chronologically from there—a more drawn-out count-down leading then to the (presumably) much faster-paced airport, will-they-catch-the-plane/the-criminals count-down of the previewed finale ... Bussi's plotting is fairly ingenious—if, in some parts, very implausible—and it's a neat little web of explanation he then unfurls ... well-paced, propelled at a nice clip by the different storylines. The maternal focus is quite well integrated into the story ... If ultimately not quite believable, The Double Mother is an otherwise solid and engaging read, its page-count going down easily and effortlessly, and with some genuine suspense.