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by Martin Michaud and Arthur Holden, trans.
Dundurn Press, January 2021
384 pages
$21.99 CAN
ISBN: 1459742095

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Martin Michaud is the author of an award-winning series of French-language television thrillers featuring Victor Lessard, a Detective Sergeant with the Montreal Police Service. In his latest work Lessard is confronted by a series of crimes that would baffle almost anyone, and rooted in memories that would send most people running in terror.

Before it is over, people will be brutally murdered, maimed, or kidnapped, with seemingly nothing in common except the enmity of an unknown maniac.

Victor Lessard is an ordinary man with a commitment to justice, who finds his private life spiraling out of control. His wife has kicked him out for an infidelity, and he longs to see his own children. His boss, Commander Tanguay, is an overbearing bully with less concern for justice than for avoiding scandal and burying inconvenient truths.

These facts alone would challenge the cleverest of sleuths, but Lessard finds himself in a tale in that moves back and forth between narrators and times, slowly revealing the motive underlying the horrific events he investigates events. Teasing the reader by keeping the identity of the killer/torturer until late in the story, Michaud weaves a compelling tale that will hold readers in suspense to the very end.

The atmosphere of Without Blood is somewhere between a traditional police procedural and a flight of fancy reminiscent of Last Year at Marienbad. There are clues, to be sure, to tease the reader: a CD with a label consisting of a string of numbers; a finger missing from one of the victims; but their meaning is enigmatic, and events in 2005 are interspersed with scenes from the late 1990s, and often the identity of the players is withheld from the reader. Is this a victim speaking and acting? The culprit? Someone else altogether?

The reader is never quite sure until the very end. At times it seems like the author is painting a dreamscape; at others, he is, in the words of one of his characters, describing a parallel reality.

Drawing on his Montreal background, Michaud has woven an intricate tale that slides back and forth in time, and is told from multiple viewpoints. It will appeal to readers in search of a challenging puzzle and a gripping thriller.

In addition to being a reviewer with over six hundred reviews to his credit, Jim Napier is an author of the Colin McDermott mystery series.

Reviewed by Jim Napier, April 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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