Friday, January 9, 2015

Review: MISSING PERSON, by Patrick Modiano

Missing Person, by Patrick Modiano. Published 2004 by Godine. Literary Fiction. Translated from French.

When Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize in 2014 I, like a lot of people, rushed out to get the one book of his that was currently in print in English, Missing Person. It was so much in demand that the copy I had had reserved at a local bookstore was sold out from under me before I could buy it, and on a day when every bookstore in my town (granted, that's 3) was sold out of him. I did finally track down a copy in the more plentifully-stocked New York City and when I did, was able to treat myself to this hypnotic and engaging story about a man looking for himself.

Set somewhere in the late 1950s, Frenchman Guy Roland is trying to find out who he is, or who he was. His name and identity was given to him by his employer, a gentlemen called Hutte, who put him to work in a detective agency. He's going to need all of his skills and smarts to solve the toughest mystery he's seen yet.

He does find out who he was, what life he lead, and as much as he will ever know about the woman in that life. The answers to his questions are tied up in World War 2, the salons and art rooms of the wealthy, political machinations that stretch across the sea and a desperate flight across the snowy fields of Europe.

In tone the book is a noir, all dark corners and dirty secrets, but its themes are wider and deeper than most. This is definitely a book to linger over and savor over a long rainy afternoon. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author and I'm glad the Nobel brought him to my attention.


FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

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