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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Beyond Suspicion

Tanguy Viel

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To purchase Beyond Suspicion

Title: Beyond Suspicion
Author: Tanguy Viel
Genre: Novel
Written: 2006 (Eng. 2009)
Length: 170 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Beyond Suspicion - US
Beyond Suspicion - UK
Beyond Suspicion - Canada
Insoupçonnable - Canada
Insoupçonnable - France
Unverdächtig - Deutschland
Insospettabile - Italia
  • French title: Insoupçonnable
  • Translated by Linda Coverdale
  • With a Foreword by Jonathan Lethem

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Our Assessment:

B : builds up atmosphere nicely, but payoffs aren't entirely satisfying

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Financial Times . 25/1/2009 Melissa McClements
FASz . 23/9/2007 Meike Hauck
FAZ . 27/8/2007 Helmut Mayer

  From the Reviews:
  • "Good literary crime novels are relatively rare, but French novelist Tanguy Viel’s second outing is a stylish slice of contemporary Gallic noir." - Melissa McClements, Financial Times

  • "Tatsächlich ist Unverdächtig ein Paradebeispiel erzählerischer Leichtigkeit in Kombination mit inhaltlicher Wehmut und der richtigen, wichtigen Prise Zorn, wie man sie sonst selten findet. ()...) Dieses Büchlein gewinnt seinen Charme auch daraus, dass es sich mit einem Plot tarnt, mit Spannungselementen des Krimis, dabei geht es eigentlich darum, abzurechnen und der Verachtung Ausdruck zu verleihen gegenüber dem Reichen, der schlechte Witze macht, sein Auto streichelt, impotent ist und hilflos und feige." - Meike Hauck, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

  • "Obwohl man gleich hinzusetzen kann, dass der Reiz von Tanguy Viels schmalem Roman gar nicht so sehr am Plot und seinen Wendungen hängt. Die Konstruktion einer realistisch anmutenden Geschichte interessiert diesen Autor kaum." - Helmut Mayer, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Beyond Suspicion is a noirish novella that lives -- and dies - with Viel's atmospheric writing. The scenario is pleasingly creepy, even as the way the plot unfolds is entirely too predictable, straight out of the noir-playbook. But, for much of the novella, Viel sustains the suspense -- and atmosphere -- nicely.
       The story is simple, the first chapter nicely setting the foundation. The narrator, Sam, describes the wedding of: "Henri Delamare and Lise, a Delamare as well from now on" -- a widower of fifty marrying a girl half his age.
       Sam is Lise's witness.
       Sam is introduced as Lise's brother.
       But he's not: Sam is Lise's lover.
       The second chapter provides some background, revealing that Lise was a much-desired girl who worked at a sort of club where men pay to talk to and drink with the girls, and sometimes do more. But Lise never did more. Henri was her regular, and eventually Henri -- an auctioneer, with a brother, Édouard, who always accompanied him -- asked Lise to marry him.
       Viel is at his best in setting the stage, allowing for all possibilities and not yet certain of any particular one -- even as we know that their fates have all been decided:

We can't pass up a chance like this, Sam.
     But a chance for what, Lise ? A chance for what ?
       She's right, of course, they can't pass up a chance like this, and they don't. They come up with a plan, too, to take advantage of the situation, once Henri and Lise are happily married: a staged kidnapping.
       Needless to say, the plan goes wrong. And even when it seems that things might go right for them, they're undone by a slip that leaves them with few options, and leaves them at the mercy of another -- who, of course, proves merciless.
       Yes, once again, the best laid noirish plans .....
       Viel has puckish fun in setting his stage and strewing small clues that later figure in the unraveling plots. His roundabout presentation is mirrored in roundabout sentences, too, as he works hard to build (and build and build) on atmosphere.
       Typically he'll allow Sam his reveries:
     When you look at the sea on the day of a spring tide, you wait for the next tide, you wait for the next wave, for it to be higher, to make you forget the one before; you wait and look and this goes on and on because the idea never stops, of watching one melt away and another well up. That's how it is; you'd stay for hours until the wind dies down or the swell subsides with the outgoing tide.
       And it's this sense that Viel tries to convey throughout the book, keeping the reader transfixed by language that sweeps in and out lightly like the waves. It's quite effective -- but not entirely so. Everything here depends on the language, and a story told like this needs payoffs to match; the payoffs are fine -- typical noir fare: a murder and yet nothing to show for it (less, even, than nothing) -- but they fall somewhat flat because Viel can't sustain the atmosphere in unwinding his plot.
       Beyond Suspicion has all the necessary elements but Viel, too enamored of his role as writer in forming his story in a particular way, can't completely come to grips with them. Still, it's decent fun over its short length

- M.A.Orthofer, 16 May 2009

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Beyond Suspicion: Reviews: Other books by Tanguy Viel under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Tanguy Viel was born in 1973.

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© 2009-2021 the complete review

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