The man who could not forget…
Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick
My thanks to my contacts at Pegasus Books, Iris Blasi, Katie McGuire, and Maia Larson, for my advance reading copy of this book! Rock on!
1899. Marcel Despres is arrested for the murder of his wife, Ondine. After catching her in the act with another man, Despres shot his wife dead. After Marcel was arrested, he spent two days in custody at the Commissariat de Police. Then something odd happens.
Laurent Petit of the Sûreté, the man assigned to the case, suddenly finds that he has been asked to drop the case. Marcel is packed off to Salpêtriére asylum, having been declared insane. Inspector Laurent Petit is informed by the Chef de la Sûreté the case is over. He lines out a solution to the crime.
Odine Despres was a woman who traded on sex. She was a topless dancer and her willingness to appear totally nude in private parties has been difficult for Marcel to process. Surprising her in the act in his own home tipped the balance. Unable to deal with Odine’s betrayal, Marcel shot her down in cold blood.
In the asylum, an interesting thing is discovered. Despite Marcel Despres’ social awkwardness and inability to hold down a job, Marcel is not stupid. But he is acting under a tremendous strain. Marcel Despres cannot forget—anything. He had been doing a stage act as Mr. Memory. Just a glance at columns of numbers and he can recite them all in any order. Days later and after more testing, he can still recite the original test along with the new ones. He can even recall his birth and being in the womb!
But is Odine even really dead?
I found the story interesting. I thought the plot was rather solid, and yet I am going to ding the book two stars, both of which are personal opinion. I found the narration tense to be odd, and a bit difficult to read. Then there is the descriptions of Odine’s dirty little secrets. While not vividly explicit, they still were a bit much for my taste.
I give the book three stars.
Quoth the Raven…
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