Pierre Lemaitre’s  first book translated into English, Alex, caused a major fuss last year, winning the CWA International Dagger and going straight into film production. But if you missed that one, start with Irene, which might be the second of his books to be translated, but is book one in his  series starring Commandant Camille Verhoeven.

At the start Camille is happy – deeply in love with his wife with a baby on the way, and doing well professionally.  Then he is called to a horrific double murder – two sadistically mutilated women in a strangely staged setting. He discovers the scene is straight out of a crime novel ­– and it’s not the first. When he makes contact with the killer, he finds himself being drawn into a nightmare.

This is horror/crime, and not for anyone with a delicate constitution. The crimes are stomach-churning and we get every vile detail. It’s one of those books where all the heroes and villains are men and the victims are women. And as much as it distressed and disturbed me, I couldn’t put it down. CH

Verdict: beware! *** 1/2

Published: March 2014