Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You Who KnowYou Who Know by Nicolas Freeling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Voi che sapete che cosa ė amor" is the title of Cherubino's aria from Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro". You who know what love is. Nicolas Freeling's titles - as quirky as they are - make perfect sense. "You Who Know" (1994) is a surprise - almost a regular thriller! And it is a good one plus we get the usual great, unmistakably Freelingesque, idiosyncratic writing. We even have a stream-of-consciousness fragment (transpiring on a Deutsche Autobahn, of all places). It is the fourteenth novel in the series featuring Henri Castang, a high-ranking French police commissaire, now serving as a Brussels bureaucrat.

Castang's friend, an Irish diplomat also employed by the European Community, has been shot and the commissaire is sent on an unofficial mission to cast light on the killing and - which is obvious but cleverly left unsaid - to make sure no political undercurrents can be found. Castang and his wife, Vera, travel to make inquiries in Ireland, in England, and in Lugano area, in the Swiss - Italian Alps. I am not one to appreciate plot a lot, but here we have a Whole Lotta Plot.

The Grand Finale is spoken rather than acted, so mercifully there are no silly final action scenes! Instead we have an Aristotelian catharsis - "a certain emotional cleansing of the spectator". Great job (particularly if one does not like formulaic, paint-by-numbers thrillers)!

Four stars.

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