I was introduced to the author Sebastien Japrisot at school when I had to read his book L’été meurtrier (One Deadly Summer) in my French class. I loved it, and it sure as hell beat L’étranger by Albert Camus.
Over the years I have collected a few more books by Japrisot on the basis that the plots of his crime stories always sound so cunning. These days I still like the idea of reading the original French versions but when it comes down to it I just can’t bring myself to do it. At some point I might appreciate the challenge but not … quite … yet.
So when I was drawn towards Piège pour Cendrillon I turned instead to the English translation: Trap for Cinderella. Here are some of the details from the back of the book:
One night on the French Riviera fire guts a house shared by two young girls. There is only one survivor. Her memory wiped blank and her fave desperately burned who can tell whether she is the mad-cap heiress or the companion, the victim or the cold-blooded murderer.
This story was written in the early 1960s, so forget any modern means of solving the problem…
I was hoping to be hugely impressed by this short (170 pages) story but it never quite happened even though the plot twists keep on coming and the end of the book is very satisfying.
I think that the problem is with the translation. It starts off well but towards the end it starts to struggle. I get the impression that Japrisot is crafting sentences in French that should be explained more fully in the English but that would not fit in with the tone of the rest of the book. The translator has gone with the more literal meaning of the text and the result is unclear English.
Still, if you’re a crime fan looking for something different you could do a lot worse than this book.