The Case of Lisandra P. by by Hélène Grémillon

Posted December 17, 2015 by Taryn in Reviews / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Case of Lisandra P. by by Hélène GrémillonThe Case of Lisandra P. by Helene Gremillon
Published by Penguin on January 12th 2016
Genres: Fiction, General, Literary, Psychological, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 304
Source: First to Read

It’s not just loud noises that accompany disasters, little sounds do, too, and even silence.

An intriguing, multi-layered mystery with a fascinating historical context.

Lisandra is found dead on the sidewalk outside the window of her sixth-floor apartment and her husband Vittorio is the main suspect. He is a psychoanalyst and one of his patients, Eva Maria, agrees to help find clues to prove his innocence. Eva Maria, who is experiencing immense grief over the disappearance of her daughter a few years prior during The Dirty War, becomes obsessed with solving the mystery and providing justice for Vittorio and Lisandra. The Case of Lisandra P. is based on a true story and takes place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in August 1987. It is translated from the original French by Alison Anderson.

Falling out of love is progressive. Before you no longer love, you love less. And less again, then no more at all. But it’s not something you are aware of. Falling out of love. A relationship gone lukewarm, humdrum, pragmatic, everyday, utilitarian and habit-worn, and you don’t even think it through because you don’t think about it at all.

The publisher recommends this book to fans of The Girl on the Train and The Silent Wife. I did really like those books and they were fun to read, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend The Case of Lisandra P. to all the fans of those two books. There is an element of domestic drama that is comparable, but that certainly isn’t the whole story or the main draw to this book. Most of the popular thrillers have an easy-breezy writing style which compels you to keep turning the pages, but this one is more literary with a deliberate pace. It took me quite a few pages to get into the writer’s style. The style actually reminded me a little more of Saramago than of Hawkins or Harrison, because of the insight into the human mind, the way the immediate story was tied to a greater context, the way the author was able to write little actions as intriguing, and the breathless way in which it is written. The format is untraditional and almost collage-like. The main story was interspersed with Vittorio’s session transcripts, lists, stream of consciousness, and even sheet music at one point. There is not much in the way of transitions and the story changes directions very quickly.

Monstrosity never thinks it is monstrous; it always finds reasons within itself to behave as it does—acts of torture become acts of justice, or even honor—…

The part that makes this book most interesting is the setting. It takes place four years after the end of The Dirty War, an event I didn’t know anything about. The descriptions of the atrocities committed are intensely disturbing: people disappearing without a trace, people being tossed from planes to destroy the evidence of torture, and children being stolen and given to families sympathetic to the junta. The lack of justice for the victims is appalling. One of the more unsettling parts of the book is a transcript of Vittorio’s session with Miguel, where Miguel describes the torture he received while imprisoned by the military junta. The acknowledgments mention that the section owes much to the real-life testimony of Miguel Ángel Estrella.

Impunity imposes impossible cohabitation on murderers and their victims; it exacerbates suspicion and hatred. In the deepest recesses of the soul. In that secret place where bile gathers and accumulates. The heart of a volcano. In that hiding place where the most violent anger lurks, the anger that ravages everything when it erupts. Because it will not fail to erupt. In the light, perhaps, of another historical context, but it will erupt.

This is not a mystery where what actually occurred is obvious, but it is not out-of-the-blue in a gimmicky GOTCHA! way. View Spoiler » There are strong parallels between the tragic events of Lisandra’s life and historical context of the book: the strong and powerful imposing their will over the weak and the powerful getting away without punishment (despite mountains of evidence) while the oppressed suffer the worst repercussions.

There were some sections that ran a little too long for me because characters would get really repetitive in these big, blocky paragraphs that would go on for pages and I was just ready for the story to move forward. Overall, it was an intriguing mystery with a fascinating setting.

Memories are free. They play with us. They get fainter, they expand, they retract, they avoid us or strike like lightning. Once life gives birth to them, they become the masters of life. They are time’s foot soldiers, driving us mad. Without memories we would be free. Memory is time’s bad fairy. No memory brings true joy, serenity. Regret, remorse—memories are like so many dissonant little bells clanging inside us. And the more life goes on, the more the little music of memories rings false. You think you are your own self, but you’re nothing but your memories.


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