In Paris at the end of the nineteenth century, a man with a perfect memory murders his wife. A dazzling psychological puzzle that reveals the strange connection between memory and fate.
In Paris in the year 1899, Marcel Després is arrested for the murder of his wife and transferred to the famous Salpêtrière Asylum. And there the story might have stopped.
But the doctor assigned to his care soon realizes this is no ordinary patient: Marcel Després, Mister Memory, is a man who cannot forget. And the policeman assigned to his case soon realizes that something else is at stake: For why else would the criminal have been hurried off to hospital, and why are his superiors so keen for the whole affair to be closed?
This crime involves something bigger and stranger than a lovers' fight, something with links to the highest and lowest establishments in France. The policeman and the doctor between them must unravel the mystery—but the answers lie inside Marcel's head. And how can he tell what is significant when he remembers every detail of every moment of his entire life?
For fans of Scarlett Thomas, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Patrick Suskind, this is a captivating literary mystery about memory, history and fate.
Marcus Sedgwick is a widely admired, prizewinning author of YA fiction. His books have been shortlisted for over thirty awards, including the Carnegie Medal (five times), the Edgar Allan Poe Award (twice) and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (four times). He has won the Branford Boase award for his debut novel, Floodland, and the Booktrust Teenage Prize for My Swordhand is Singing. This first novel for adults.
"A historical thriller that will not be easy for readers to forget."
"A fascinating look at the power of the human mind to solve problems both internal and external, set in one of the most important, progressive periods of modern history. Sedgwick pays tribute to Belle Epoque Paris with a tale that is lovingly aware of its setting, which is perhaps the only time and place that a crime this complex, with characters this bizarre and compelling, could have been both perpetrated and ultimately solved."
– Criminal Element
"Fin de siècle Paris provides the backdrop for this outstanding thriller from Sedgwick, who creates a sense of intimacy with the reader through darkly humorous omniscient narration reminiscent of Dumas. Sedgwick thoughtfully explores fundamental questions about the relationship of memory and identity."
– Publishers Weekly (starred)
"A memorable book for many reasons; including an ending that Despres and his prodigious mind deserve."
– Mystery Scene
"Young-adult novelist Sedgwick returns to Paris in his second book for adults, this time to La Belle Epoque, weaving murder and memory into an intense thriller. Beautifully woven. Characters are shaped subtly but colorfully. The narrative voice has an old-fashioned address-the-reader aura. Marvelously imagined and sure to appeal to readers who enjoy an intelligent thriller."
– Kirkus Reviews
"Marcus Sedgwick is a prolific author of YA novels, which shows in his simple, direct language, fast pace and eventful plot. It does not deter him from opening up profound existential themes. A thriller that makes you think."
– Historical Novel Society
"While the intriguing setup and the fascinating characters will rivet readers, there’s more to this novel than a mere murder mystery—this work offers a deep examination of memory: how it changes, how it imprisons, and how it eventually brings answers. A quality crime drama; hand to readers who appreciate thought-provoking mystery or historical fiction."