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The Executioner Weeps by Frédéric Dard. Book Review

March 30, 2017

Executioner weeps

A woman steps out in front of a car driven by an artist making his way through the mountains near Barcelona. She survives the accident, but appears to have no memory of who she is. Her only possession of any note is a violin damaged by the accident.

As she convalesces in the artist’s care, the two fall in love. But it is a romance which threatens to take a sinister turn.

The Executioner Weeps was first published in 1956, but could have been written by a modern author who chose to set their story in that time.

There is great depth to the storytelling in this novel, in the breathtaking scenery, capturing the whole feel of that era, and the developing relationship between the couple. There is indeed a love story, only there is an uncomfortable edge to it as the further into the romance we are taken, the more claustrophobic and worrying it becomes for the reader.

As the story moves on it becomes ever more difficult to work out who is more vulnerable in the relationship the amnesiac woman or the artist.

Given the time the novel is set this type of relationship would be more than frowned on, but even a modern reader will have a great sense of unease with a woman who is so willing to fall into a relationship with a man who’s biography of himself she has to take at face value, which makes you question her motive. Yet Frédéric Dard’s writing leaves you questioning your own ability to make a proper judgement.

The story unfolds brilliantly and the denouement is a shocking revelation even by today’s standards in crime writing.

The Executioner Weeps was courtesy of Pushkin Press via NetGalley.

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