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Book Review – Asylum by Jeannette de Beauvoir

Posted by mcm0704 on August 23, 2015 |

asylum coverAsylum: A Mystery

Jeannette de Beauvoir

File Size: 1145 KB
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (March 10, 2015)
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
ASIN: B00MSYOCNC

BOOK BLURB: Martine LeDuc is the director of PR for the mayor’s office in Montreal. When four women are found brutally murdered and shockingly posed on park benches throughout the city over several months, Martine’s boss fears a PR disaster for the still busy tourist season, and Martine is now also tasked with acting as liaison between the mayor and the police department. The women were of varying ages, backgrounds and bodytypes and seemed to have nothing in common. Yet the macabre presentation of their bodies hints at a connection. Martine is paired with a young detective, Julian Fletcher, and together they dig deep into the city’s and the country’s past, only to uncover a dark secret dating back to the 1950s, when orphanages in Montreal and elsewhere were converted to asylums in order to gain more funding.

REVIEW: This is a beautifully written book that captures the reader from the first few words, “The woman sitting in the back seat, shivered and drew the child closer to her side. But it was a warm morning, promising summer.”

Right away you suspect something is amiss, and that quickly becomes evident.

The story is told with alternating points of view. the first being that young child in the car who is taken to an orphanage by her mother. The child has no idea why the mother has to leave her at the orphanage, and it is a most painful parting.

The other point of view is Martine’s, and we meet her one morning as she is having breakfast with her husband, Ivan. He is sharing the news with her of the fourth body that was found, and her reaction lets us know right away that she will take a very personal interest in the murders. “I leaned so I could read over Ivan’s shoulder. One Danielle  Leroux, age thirty-four….. I shuddered and put down my coffee. ‘I should get ready for work,’ I said. But I didn’t move, fixed in the moment, fixed in the spot. It was as though Danielle Leroux’s tragedy had, for a passing shivering instant,  become my own.”

As the story progresses, those two points of view draw the reader closer and closer to the awful truth about the plight of the Duplessis orphans, children who were in orphanages one day and in asylums the next. While fictionalized to tell a compelling story, the facts of the asylums and the duplicity of Canadian social services and the Catholic Church are true. Terrible things were done to the children in those places, and those facts are artfully connected to the fiction.

Despite the awful facts of what happened to those children, this was an enjoyable read. The author has a very poetic style of writing, concise but with a lot of emotion. The characters and relationships were conveyed with such clarity, I liked them immediately. The bond that Martine has with her husband is special and an integral part of the story. He is her greatest supporter. “I grinned and kissed him. Some day Ivan isn’t going to say exactly the right thing at the right moment and I’m going to faint.

“Maybe.”

I highly recommend the book to anyone who likes a good mystery with a lot of depth. Jeannette will be my Wednesday’s Guest this week, so do come back and find out a bit more about her and the research she did for Asylum.

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