Alex (Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy #2)

Alex (Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy #2)

by Pierre Lemaitre, Frank Wynne

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623650018
Publisher: Quercus
Publication date: 09/03/2013
Series: Commandant Camille Verhoeven Series , #2
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 143,802
File size: 679 KB

About the Author

Pierre Lemaitre has worked for many years as a teacher of literature. His novels to date have earned him exceptional critical and public acclaim as a master of the crime novel and have won him the Prix du Premier Roman de Cognac 2006, the Prix du Meilleur Polar Francophone 2009, and the Prix du Polar Europeen du Point 2010. Alex is his first novel to be translated into English, and won the presitigious 2013 Crime Writers Association International Dagger Award. In 2013 Lemaitre was the recipient of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, the highest literary honor in France, for Au revoir la-haut.

Frank Wynne has translated works by Michel Houellebecq, Boualem Sansal, and many more. He won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2005 for his translation of Frederic Beigbeder's Windows on the World.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

Her life is a series of frozen images, a spool of film that has snapped in the projector—it is impossible for her to rewind, to refashion her story, to find new words. The next time she has dinner here, she might stay a little later, and he might be waiting for her outside when she leaves—who knows? Alex knows. Alex knows all too well how these things go. It’s always the same story. Her fleeting encounters with men never become love stories; this is a part of the film she’s seen many times, a part she remembers. That’s just the way it is.

It is completely dark now and the night is warm. A bus has just pulled up. She quickens her step, the driver sees her in the rearview mirror and waits. She runs for the bus but, just as she’s about to get on, changes her mind, decides to walk a little way. She signals to the driver, who gives a regretful shrug, as if to say Oh well, such is life. He opens the bus door anyway.

“There won’t be another bus after me. I’m the last one tonight . . .”

Alex smiles, thanks him with a wave. It doesn’t matter. She’ll walk the rest of the way. She’ll take the rue Falguière and then the rue Labrouste.

She’s been living near the Porte de Vanves for three months now. She moves around a lot. Before this, she lived near Porte de Clignancourt and before that on the rue du Commerce. Most people hate moving, but for Alex it’s a need. She loves it. Maybe because, as with the wigs, it feels like she’s changing her life. It’s a recurring theme. One day she’ll change her life.

A little way in front of her, a white van pulls onto the pavement to park. To get past, Alex has to squeeze between the van and the building. She senses a presence, a man; she has no time to turn. A fist slams between her shoulder blades, leaving her breathless. She loses her balance, topples forward, her forehead banging violently against the van with a dull clang; she drops everything she’s carrying, her hands flailing desperately to find something to catch hold of—they find nothing.

Reading Group Guide

With hairpin plot twists, characters deep enough to confound a psychoanalyst, and an intense yet tasteful dose of heart-stopping violence, Alex by Pierre Lemaitre is an unforgettable experience that leaves readers with as many tantalizing questions as satisfying answers.
1. What are some of the narrative and descriptive techniques Pierre Lemaitre uses to create effective plot twists?
2. Does Commandant Verhoeven’s torment over the kidnapping and murder of his wife help or hinder his abilities to solve the case at the center of the novel? Does it seem that he believes he can find some measure of closure over Irene’s murder if he can solve this case?
3. At the end of the novel, do you believe the conclusion Verhoeven has reached about Alex’s motivations is accurate? Is Vasseur guilty? (If so, of what?) What might Verhoeven have—intentionally or not—overlooked?
4. After finishing, review the first chapter describing Alex’s “normal” day-to-day existence.
5. What clues does Lemaitre provide here that hint at what lies below the surface?
6. Is Alex a sympathetic character? Which of her actions can you justify or even relate to, and which do you find objectively repulsive?
7. Do you think Alex’s fear and acceptance of death is genuine when she is in captivity, or does it seem as though she is seeing several moves ahead, like a calculating chessmaster?
8. What is the significance to the novel of Maud Verhoeven, Commandant Verhoeven’s late mother who was a renowned painter? How does her “ghost”—as represented in her paintings and his memories—affect how he goes about his life and work?
9. Discuss the scene with Alex and Bobby, the devoutly religious truck driver. What do we learn about Alex’s attitudes towards God, spirituality and the afterlife? How do these attitudes manifest in her actions throughout the novel?

Customer Reviews

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Alex 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
GretPC More than 1 year ago
A serial killer, deviant sexual behavior and hungry rats. What a story! I was a huge fan of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books and this book really reminded me of those. The heroine (?) is complicated and Commandant Verhoeven is such an original and interesting character. I really can't wait to read the next in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thrill ride that never stops. Creepy. Methodical. Unforgettable characters. One of the BEST mystery/suspense books I have ever read. A must read NOW!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had my interest all though each and every chapter. I recommend Alex highly
eternalised More than 1 year ago
When reading through the Goodreads reviews for this book, Alex, it sounds as if the reviewers are divided into two camps: either you love this book, or you hate it. I loved it. From the start, we meet our main character, Alex. A man stalks her, kidnaps her, and puts her in a cage. He expresses his desire to watch her wither away. Meanwhile, the police starts an investigation into the kidnapping, and commandant Camille Verhoeven is set on the case. After his wife’s death, he rather stay away from cases of this nature, but the moment he starts investigating the kidnapping, he knows he can’t stop. He has to find this girl, and fast. But as the police gets closer to finding the culprit, they start to wonder – why did he kidnap Alex? Turns out that Alex may have some secrets of her own. This book is riddled with the unexpected. At first, I thought it would be a cut and dry story of how a girl gets kidnapped, and the police tries to find her. But then, an unexpected twist hit me straight in the face, so to speak, and I was hooked. From that point on, there are twists everywhere. As we delve deeper into the characters and their pasts, we learn truths we never thought possible. If you want a thriller that has it all, from a relentless pace, to shocking twists, to gruesome descriptions that make your stomach turn inside out, to characters you can’t decide whether you should like them or hate them, then you need to read Alex. I stayed up until 4 am to read this book – that’s how awesome it is. No self-respecting thriller fan can miss out on this one.
PVoetsch1 More than 1 year ago
A very twisted tale. This book takes you on a wild ride with unique characters and storyline. Very reminiscent of Steig's three stories, but it is also quite different. At first, you think Alex is a victim of a horrible abduction. The police, especially Commandant Verhoeven (who is duped into heading up this investigation by his superior) and his staff, undertake an investigation to find a woman who has not been reported missing with no leads whatsoever. Slowly the case evolves and the details and ensuing violence make this book extremely fascinating. The author has written more books but this is the first book to be translated in English. I hope more of the books are translated into English.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like all of the reviews I have read you can not discuss this book without giving it away so let me tell you like this. The book is broke into three parts, in the first Alex of the title gets kidnapped like the cover flap says with the police not even knowing her name. Yet by the end of section one you get a twist. Section 2 begins and by its end again you think you know what is happened and you will be wrong. With section 3 you really have no clue what will happen and get a very dark resolution with you wanting more. The main characters Alex and Camille and his partners a amazingly complex and I can not wait to see more of them. Though I can not read French, I believe it is a great translation and gives you a good feel for this French setting. I will say that if you are squeamish at all this may not be the book for you, however if you liked Stigg Larson's books, or any of the other books from Scandinavian detectives like me then this book ay be for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is deserving of its accolades. The twists and turns keep you wanting to read more. I am interested in reading more translations by him. Thanks Pierre!!
JBronder More than 1 year ago
The story starts with Alex getting kidnapped and locked in a small crate. The man doesn’t say much beyond the fact that he wants to watch her die. At the same time, Camille Verhoeven has been given this case. It is hard for him since it is so close to what happened with his own wife. Camille is in a race against time to save Alex, a girl he knows nothing about. But things take a strange twist and Camille is on board unwillingly to find Alex and figure out what is really going on. It is so hard to review this book without giving away too many details. You have to discover them along the way. I have a love and hate relationship with Alex. You feel sorry for her, hate her actions, and then want to cry. Camille is very wrapped up in his own past and seems distracted with this case, but he does keep working to find out what really happened to Alex. This is a great story! There are great twists and turns, wonderful characters, and a horrifying ending. Be warned, the ending is a bit graphic, it works well for the book but it wraps everything up nicely. This is one book that you don’t want to miss. Now I want to read the other books.
nurse97 More than 1 year ago
pretty good book, took me a little bit cuz i usually don't read these kind of books. I agree, you either like it or u don't. I almost stopped reading it after the first 150 pages. Does get a little confusing then it comes together and i was going to stop i thought i paid 9.99 i am going to finish it. Will i buy any other books not really sure yet but it was a book that made you go ewwww....more than a couple of times.
LisaDunckley More than 1 year ago
Wow, what an exciting read!! A woman is kidnapped and is being held prisoner. Witnesses saw her grabbed, so law enforcement knows someone was abducted—but no one knows who or why. The story alternates between victim Alex's point of view, and that of the Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven, who is determined to save her. The tension builds dramatically, and there are dramatic twists that reveal that your theories are wrong and you need to rethink everything. Repeatedly. I could not put this book down—it was one of those that keeps you up till 3am because you HAVE to know! Author Pierre Lemaitre is an award winning writer, and this is his first book to be translated into English. My question is, why, WHY, for the love of all that is holy, would you select the MIDDLE BOOK OF A TRILOGY to be the first book made available in English?! After reading this, I immediately went to go buy everything the author's written (possibly the highest praise you can give), and THAT'S when I found out that this was book 2. While this book obviously stands alone as a great read, I know that the first book will be somewhat lessened for me now, because while I'm sure it will be a page turner, I already know the outline and the end, it's mentioned in book 2. So if you are looking for something thrilling to read withOUT spoilers—I predict Irene, (book 1), or better yet the entire trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Camille is an obnoxious boor who should certainly have been fired. No real employer woukd tolerate his annoying outbursts, particularly frtom a ridiculous midget. Had he put a fraction of the effort into tracking the murderous monster as he put into posthumously justifying her actions, less evil would have been done. I was disgusted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Locked my self out sorry
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of European mysteries and this is one og the best I,ve ever read. Actually its one of the brst books I,ve read--period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waits on a bench for her name to be called.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book keeps you on your toes till the very end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didnt know what to expect but this was a fantastic read that kept me on my toes. I didnt realize it was the second in a trilogy when i started it but this book stands on its own just fine and i cant wait to go back and read the first. If you like mystery or thrillers you'll love this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel was exactly the style I enjoy. That being said, I'm a nursing student/ psych major, who has always been intrigued by psychological thrillers, true crime, serial killers, and I'm definitely not squeamish. I can compare Alex a bit to Gone Girl, with its twists and turns. Always keeping the reader guessing and switching up the plot. Totally enjoyed this book and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers and suspense.
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