After the Crash

after the crashPublished: 2015
Author: Michel Bussi

An intelligent and unique thriller


Time for a confession – I’m terrified of flying, I hate it with a passion. There are so many strange noises and bumps and dangers that I don’t understand and can’t control. I have recurring dreams where I either witness a plane crash or am on a plane which is taking off in the middle of a city centre and having to negotiate high rise office buildings and motorway flyovers. My biggest fear isn’t, however, flying. It’s not flying. It’s crashing to the ground or into the side of a mountain at 500 miles per hour – the very scenario at the heart of Michel Bussi’s intriguing thriller After the Crash.

Just before Christmas 1980 a plane crashes into a mountain on the Swiss/French border. 168 of the 169 people onboard are killed in the ensuing fireball but one passenger survives, a three month old baby is thrown from the wreckage. Two families come forward claiming the child as their own – the wealthy and ruthless de Carvilles and the poor but loving Vitrals. Who is the child – Emilie or Lyse-Rose? Over the following 18 years a private investigator works tirelessly but ultimately unsuccessfully to uncover the truth. As all hope fades and he contemplates suicide, a chance discovery promises to finally solve the mystery however he is murdered before he can bring the truth to light.

I was hooked from the first page of After the Crash until the very end, for a couple of nights I stayed up much later than I intended in order to find out exactly what had happened in December 1980 and who the child actually was. As with several books I’ve read recently, the action takes place in two timeframes with flashbacks fleshing out the narrative. In this, unlike other books, the switching of timelines feels seamless and it reads as one complete story rather than two different stories told concurrently.

The characters are all fully fleshed out and complex – even those who aren’t likeable have their sympathetic moments. I particularly had real sympathy for Malvina, the sister of one of the babies on the plane driven to insanity by the situation and her apparent loss. Her extreme actions are somehow forgivable because of her background.

There are a number of twists and turns, only one or two of which I saw coming and by the end I did have a little bit of fatigue. There’s also a degree of suspension of disbelief required and once or twice that did test my patience. Despite that, I really did enjoy After the Crash. It’s an intelligent and gripping thriller unlike anything else I’ve read in a long time.

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