Wow. What a fantastic mystery. I stayed up WAY too late last night to finish this one and I was completely surprised by the end. I love it when that happens! ;o)
Last Night in Montreal is essentially the tale of Lilia Albert, her boyfriend Eli, a private investigator, and the PI’s daughter. The story begins with Lilia leaving Eli as she has always left everyone else in her life. But the story doesn’t really start there. It really starts when Lilia is seven-years-old and her non-custodail American father abducts her (or does he?) from her Canadian home. At some point, Christopher, a PI, is hired to find Lilia. But in a hotel room Bible somewhere in the American southwest, an 11-year-old Lilia writes:
“Stop looking for me. I’m not missing; I do not want to be found. I wish to remain vanishing...”Christopher pays little heed, becomes obsessed with finding the girl, and reaps the disastrous results for the rest of his life.
The language in this book is quite beautiful. Take for example, this passage when we first meet Christopher:
“His work was essentially the study of intersections: the crosshairs where childhood trauma meets a longing for violence, where specific temperaments come up against messages written on mirrors in red lipstick...” (p. 65)Doesn’t that just capture the work of a PI or a police detective?
And I loved this description:
“ He got out of the train and stood for a few minutes on the dim platform, at a loss. He’d had a prolonged disagreement with an imperfectly preserved Amtrack Cafe Car sandwich earlier in the day, and he still felt a little ill.” (p. 126)I can just feel Eli’s bewilderment and slight nauseousness about stepping into a completely foreign situation. These quotes are from an advanced reading copy, so they might be a bit different in the final version (or on different pages). But you get the idea.
This is Emily St. John Mandel’s first novel and it hits the shelves June 2nd. You can read an excerpt on her website. If you like suspenseful, intriguing mysteries with a bit of a dark side, pick it up when it comes out next week. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.
I’d like to thank Caitlin at Unbridled Books for sending me an advanced reading copy of Last Night in Montreal. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’ll be on the look out for Mandel’s new book which she just announced will be published in 2010 also by Unbridled Books.