BOOKS: Settle in for a tale of lies, mystery and murder

AS THE title of this book suggests, the story takes a while to get going. Like a slow waltz, the author introduces us to the many characters and their relationships and interaction with each other. Pay close attention as it's important to remember who's who and how they fit into the thread of the tale.

Once you have settled comfortably into the novel then you can truly enjoy the tale of 40-something mother of two Josephine Cortes as she searches for meaning and love in her life.

She has recently moved to a posh new apartment in Paris after successfully ghostwriting a novel for her sister, Iris. Josephine is struggling with her divorce, her new relationship with the strange Luca and simply trying to hold it all together.

You soon realise it's not just a story of love, as people keep turning up dead in Josephine's neighbourhood and a number of people are not who you thought they were.

As you go deeper into the novel so many questions are asked: Is Josephine's husband, who ran off to Kenya to start a crocodile farm, still alive? Is Luca a struggling academic or really a top model? What strange secrets does Herve Lefloc-Pignel hide behind his well-dressed facade?

The cast of characters will delight, amuse and even scare you as you pick your way through their lives. The author masterfully builds each one up and you soon begin to almost see them as people you may know.

Apart from the slow start, one criticism is that as it is translated from French there are some elements of the language I found a bit stiff, especially in some of the dialogue - lost in translation perhaps. There was also a feeling of the story being a little disjointed, with some of the happenings seeming slightly irrelevant to the overall story.

Given that this is the sequel to The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles (which I have not read) it is perhaps tying up loose ends from the first novel or perhaps continuing a story line. Overall, an enjoyable read.

Set in Paris and London, the novel is by one of France's best-known contemporary authors and was a bestseller in France. Now it is being shared with the world and there is no doubt the world will delight in this many-layered tale that slowly weaves itself into a brilliant crescendo.

The Slow Waltz of Turtles, by Katherine Pancol, published by Allen and Unwin, RRP $29.99, is out now.

Topics:  books opinion review

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