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The Cairo Diary by Maxim Chattam

The Cairo Diary (2007)

by Maxim Chattam

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English (6)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All (8)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
The plot was very good, the thrills, twists and reveals worked very well - except, possibly, for the original premise of the scandal that meant the protaganist had to leave Paris (which I found slightly stretched). It is difficult to be original in this genre and the author succeeded convincingly.
The creation of atmosphere and the sense of being in two very different places and times was also conveyed well.
But, oh dear, I really must stop reading translated books: I wanted to go thru the book with a red pen and change so much. I apologise to translators: it must be hard and I don't know anything about it, but I assume there is some kind of rule about being careful to express what the writer intended, rather than what you think would read better (a bit like being an editor). However, in this book there were too many instances of the sentences reading clumsily, partly because (I can only guess) the translator was being literal or trying to avoid cliches or something like that. But it spoilt the flow of reading. Or maybe the book should have been edited better in the original language - there was a really annoying over use of one stylistic phrase that someone should have spoken to the author about!
( )
  Deborahrs | Apr 15, 2017 |
I thought that it would be better, especially with his other books!. Still a good read though! ( )
  ClubStephenKing | Apr 11, 2014 |
In present day Paris, Marion, a young woman working as a secretary in the department of Autopsies for a Paris Medical Institute, becomes an unfortunate innocent victim by stumbling upon documents that will prove a local politician a criminal. The DST, which is France's version of our CIA, wishes for her to go missing for a while until the scandal dies down. People might want her dead. Immediately whisked away for temporary exile, Marion finds herself deposited at the daunting doors of the famous monastery of Mount-St. Michel. Not knowing how long her secret stay will last, Marion settles in to the abbey life amongst a variety of monks and sisters that all have mysterious pasts and personalities. Soon cryptic letters arrive unseen in her cottage evoking an eerie and sinister presence that will have Marion's emotions on edge wondering if she has been followed and found out. While preventing boredom for the long winter ahead, Marion is given the chore of assisting the monks with cataloging the abbey library. Enjoying her task, she one day put her hands on a very old diary, one man's personal and private notes, dated Cairo 1928.

Jeremy Matheson, a British post-war veteran who had endured the many horrors all soldiers of war experience, has settled into a quiet life as a hard-boiled detective eaking out an existence in the Egyptian mecca of Cairo. Although he is suffering from the pangs of unrequited love, the local police department turns up an interesting case of multiple gruesome child murders allowing Matheson the opportunity to jump at the chance to take on the case. Child after child is found brutally murdered, slayed as if a wild animal had taken them in it's hungry jaws.

The Cairo Diary is a diabolical dual mystery that will have readers turning pages so fast they won't realize time flying by. Cleverly crafted with an astounding literary writing style, this suspense novel is riveting, intriguing and very unique. As the author alternates stories, the written pendulum swinging from past to present, both Marion and Jeremy are caught up in two whirlwind mysteries that amazingly will weave together for an unbelievable jaw-dropping ending that will leave readers panting for more from this creative and talented new author. Trembling with fear as I turned each page, I was on the edge of my chair throughout the whole book, and simply could not put the book down for a second. The characters of both Marion and Jeremy will tug at your heartstrings, evoke a host of emotions, and will keep you cheering on both of these finely created characters as they painstakingly unravel two uncanny puzzles; one born of evil, the other from an unlikely duo out for a bit of welcoming mischief. Bravo Maxim Chattam, a literary accomplishment worth many awards! Five stars without blinking. ( )
  vernefan | Jan 3, 2013 |
Murder,torture,suspense,mystery and a touch of the supernatural,plus a cast of well-conceived characters,this book has the lot.
Two strands of a story which come together explosively as the tale progresses.
Cairo in the 1920's experiences a series of child murders of the most horrific sort,with rumors of a ghoul abounding and causing panic among the poor,who are losing their young ones. Inspector Jeremy Matherson follows a winding trail and as he does so,writes a diary of these events.
In the second strand,in 2005,a woman in France is in the centre of a scandal which involves the most important names in the country. She is taken by the security services for her own safety and hidden in the monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel.
While there she finds the Cairo Diary and in the course of reading it,becomes involved in much more than just an excercise of delving into the past.
This is a really thrilling read which I throughly recommend . ( )
1 vote devenish | Jul 8, 2009 |
The Cairo Diary is an atmospheric thriller that does, I feel, edge towards the realms of gothic horror.

We are presented with Marion who, after uncovering something within her real life, is sent to hide away under the guise of seeking a 'retreat' amongst a religious order. Whilst helping one of the monks catalogue books in the library in the nearby town, she uncovers a diary written by a detective in 1928 who is investigating the rather extreme murders of children in Cairo. Over the coming days Marion settles down to read the diary becoming ever more enthralled and involved with its' contents. We are with Marion as she reads the diary, not only hiding herself from the world, but also the diary from the immediate people around her.

In the book, Chattam manages to conjure up a feeling of paranoia around Marion's immediate environment and the threats she perceives. He also manages to draw us into the contents of the diary that Marion is reading, teasing us with each chapter, so much so, that I found myself becoming more interested in the events of 1928 and, at times, found Marion's story a sideline to the events in Cairo.

The writing, I feel, manages to conjure up the images of a desolate, cold and isolated monastry where Marion is staying and juxtapose these with the hot, dank and dark winding streets of Cairo where the diary events unfold and the murders take place. The descriptions of which are quite graphic on a couple of occasions and not for the faint of heart!

It has been sometime since I have read fiction (non-fiction being the favoured of late), however, I managed to stay with the Cairo Diary to the end and was, at times, swept along by the writing, the imagery and the sense that something would be revealed at the next turn of the page. Like Marion I found myself awaiting the next installment of Jeremy Matheson's writing.

Overall a good, easy to read piece of fiction that has the sprinkling of a gothic atmosphere. ( )
  lilywren | Dec 2, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 033045191X, Paperback)

British-occupied Cairo, 1928: Several young children have disappeared and were then found, horribly mutilated, in the tombs just outside the city. Panic is spreading among the locals after a cloaked giant is sighted. Has a ghoul from One Thousand and One Nights been brought to life? British inspector Jeremy Matheson follows the trail of the monster, which takes him into the depths of underground Cairo, as well as deep into his own tortured past.
Mont-Saint-Michel, 2005: Marion has taken refuge in the wind-swept and remote monastery located on a spit of land on the west coast of France. In the wake of a scandal, caused by her own revelations, that is now reverberating through the French capital, she has been spirited away from Paris and brought here by the French Secret Service for her own protection. When she finds a diary dating from 1928 in the monastery library, penned by Jeremy Matheson and hidden inside the jacket of an Edgar Allan Poe book, she is inexorably pulled into the past as she follows his investigation. Soon she feels she is being watched, and taunting notes and riddles urge her to give back what is not hers. Could one of the brothers or sisters at the monastery be behind this? And who is the old man Marion befriends?
The two stories intertwine and culminate in an absolutely baffling climax in this cinematic bestselling thriller from France. Meticulously researched and fast-paced, The Cairo Diary is a stunning mystery.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

After stumbling across a political coverup, Marion, a clerical employee at a Paris morgue, takes refuge in remote Mont-Saint-Michel. There she discovers the diary of an English detective, Jeremy Matheson, describing his probe into a series of sadistic child murders in 1928 Cairo. Marion becomes obsessed with the diary and in finding the solution to the old case.… (more)

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