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The Twenty-Year Death: Malniveau Prison by…

The Twenty-Year Death: Malniveau Prison

by Ariel Winter

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Malniveau Prison takes place in a town in France, Veragent. I always pictured the town in the south of France, but Winter makes clear that you can't find the town on a map. He made it up. There's a prison near this small town and a French inspector has shown up to interview a sick, demented prisoner who is sort of like a Hannibal Lector being interviewed by Clarisse. This prisoner is surprisingly smart, sophisticated, and has very useful information. The pace of the book is deliberately set in this small out of the way town where time seems to move slowly, but somehow the book is fascinating. A body shows up when a baker comes out to the street to see why his basement is being flooded. Supposedly, inmates are being stabbed in the prison. Two young boys disappear and the townsfolk spread out looking for them. Inch by inch, the inspector dutifully puts the clues together and figures out what is going on. In the midst of it, the inspector has some difficulties with an American writer, Shem Rosenkrantz and his French wife, Clothide-ma Fleur, whose father was the man found by the baker
in the gutter. Outwardly, the story evokes the slow, tortured mysteries common before the noir era, but I found this story to be excellent.

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  DaveWilde | Sep 22, 2017 |
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