The Readers’ Room by Antoine Laurain

The Readers’ Room by Antoine Laurain, translated by Jane Aitken/ Emily Boyce, Gallic Books 2020 hardcover, mystery fiction, 172 pages

Readers' RoomI first became aware of this author when in 2017 I read The Red Notebook [© 2014], about which at the time I said: “An enjoyable little book about the finding of a red notebook and the finder’s efforts to locate it’s owner. I liked it when I read it, and liked it more as I considered it later.”

This novel is even better.

from B&N website:

When the manuscript of a debut crime novel arrives at a Parisian publishing house, everyone in the readers’ room is convinced it’s something special. And the committee for France’s highest literary honour, the Prix Goncourt, agrees.

But when the shortlist is announced, there’s a problem for editor Violaine Lepage: she has no idea of the author’s identity. As the police begin to investigate a series of murders strangely reminiscent of those recounted in the book, Violaine is not the only one looking for answers. And, suffering memory blanks following an aeroplane accident, she’s beginning to wonder what role she might play in the story …

Antoine Laurain, bestselling author of The Red Notebook, combines intrigue and charm in this dazzling novel of mystery, love and the power of books.

from Publisher’s Weekly:

“A profound love of books and authors underpins this sprightly mystery from Laurain (The President’s Hat). Violaine Lepage, the director of the manuscript readers’ room for a Parisian publisher, is certain that Sugar Flowers, a debut crime novel, will be a big seller, and so it proves when, a year later, the book is shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt. Then the problems start. First, the author, Camille Désencres, has only communicated with her publishers by email, and refuses to participate in person for interviews. Then Det. Insp. Sophie Tanche of the Rouen regional crime squad informs Violaine that a double murder described in the novel closely resembles an actual case. When a third man is found dead, the detective observes, “I don’t know how, but everything stems from one bizarre place: a thirty-square-meter room in which people are paid to read books that don’t yet exist… the readers’ room.” The tendency of characters to wax philosophical (“All books are works of black magic”) adds to the charm of this witty and perceptive novel.”

The author’s writing style is simple and straightforward, the character building the same, yet the book caught and held me through it’s length — I finished it in a day, unusual for me. Recommended.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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8 Responses to The Readers’ Room by Antoine Laurain

  1. tracybham says:

    This book sounds very good. I will have to try one of this author’s books. I don’t know when because I have so many to read already, but I will definitely seek them out. The brevity of the books really appeals to me.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    It does sound good! I forgot the other one but this does make the author seem worth a look.

  3. Like Jeff, I’ll be checking out Antoine Laurain. I like the fact that it’s short…and you read it in a day. That speaks highly for THE READERS’ ROOM.

  4. prettysinister says:

    I’ve read this one and reviewed it on my blog. Enjoyed it so much I immediately took out three more of Laurain’s books from our library system. French Rhapsody was the most recent one of his I’ve read. But I sort of lost interest in that one — it has two plot lines that are supposed to converge, but there is a political plot that was not as engrossing as the story of the man tracking down all his old band members. Of all the books I’ve read of his so far I enjoyed The President’s Hat (probably his best) and The Portrait the most. I still have to read The Red Notebook and Vintage 1954 which has a time slip/time travel plot that I think might be fun.

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