#RivetingReviews Classics: Barry Forshaw reviews BLACK WATER LILIES by Michel Bussi

To say that Michel Bussi’s After the Crash made a considerable mark is to understate the case. The highly original premise had critics seeking new adjectives to praise this narrative of the tragic aftermath of a plane crash. Black Water Lilies, however, is a very different kettle of fish, involving a murder in the garden of the French impressionist Monet – and is fashioned on a more modest scale. 

Bussi takes us to Giverny, where tourists flock to see the gardens Monet painted, but reveals another side to this idyllic French village when Jérôme Morval, a man of great passions (for both art and women), is found murdered in the stream that runs through Monet’s gardens. Three different women are somehow involved in his death: the attractive village schoolteacher, an ambitious young painter and an elderly widow who surveys the village from the mill near the stream. The three women share a secret. While those expecting something as large-scale as the earlier book may initially be disappointed by the more intimate narrative on offer here, Black Water Lilies is quite as accomplished a piece of work as its predecessor, with the details of the slowly unfolding mystery exerting a mesmerising effect.

Reviewed by Barry Forshaw

BLACK WATER LILIES

Written by Michael Bussi 

Translated from the French by Shaun Whiteside

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson (2016)


Barry Forshaw’s books include Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide, the Keating Award-winning Brit Noir and Nordic Noir. Other work: Death in a Cold Climate, Sex and Film and the British Crime Writing encyclopedia (also a Keating Award winner). He edits Crime Time (www.crimetime.co.uk). 

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Category: November 2020Reviews

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