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Death From the Woods by Brigitte Aubert
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Death From the Woods (1996)

by Brigitte Aubert

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Death from the Woods. Brigitte Aubert. 2001. This book was on my Amazon Wish List for a year or so, and I am not sure where I first heard about it. One of the blurbs listed it as being “named France’s Best Thriller of the Year.” As the result of terrible auto accident, Elise, the narrator, is paralyzed, mute, and blind. She is confined to a wheel chair, and the only way she can communicate is by moving one finger up and down. Elise’s thoughts and feelings move the plot along. Young boys are being murdered and Elise becomes aware the murders from a neighborhood child who takes the time to learn to communicate with Elise. The suspense intensifies when Elise realizes the murderer must be someone she knows ( )
  judithrs | Dec 24, 2014 |
Death From the Woods was named France's Best Thriller of 1997, and the reason for that, without doubt, is the character of Elise Andrioli. Most people upon hearing that the main character is a blind, mute quadriplegic will probably avoid the book, thinking that it's too depressing. It is not because the story is told by Elise, and we get to see how smart and brave and funny she is. Her sense of humor is what is helping her to survive being unable to communicate with anyone. When Virginie shares her bombshell with Elise, the knowledge fires her up. Elise wants to learn more, and she wants to be able to share her knowledge with the police. When she does manage to regain the use of one index finger and uses it to answer yes or no questions, the news spreads through their little circle of friends and acquaintances. Soon the murderer knows as well, and Elise's life is threatened in more than one bone-chilling scene.

Through Elise, our own senses are limited to what she can hear and what she can feel, and this certainly ratchets up the tension, but the rest of the characters are mostly stereotypes, and I found it entirely too easy to pinpoint the killer's identity. Moreover, the ending was anticlimactic and the type that I dislike the most: one of the characters tells us everything that happened. Quelle déception!

I must say, however, that even though I'm disappointed by the secondary characters and by that ending, Elise Andrioli is such a marvelous character that I want to read the second book she appears in-- Death From the Snows. I'm a soft touch when it comes to extraordinary characters. ( )
  cathyskye | May 22, 2014 |
The conceit of this story -- that the protagonist, Elise Andrioli, has lost the ability to move below the neck and is blind and mute due to being caught in a bomb explosion -- is both its strength and weakness. It's fascinating to be in Elise's head as she narrates this tale and yet, the situations that are presented seem tailor-made for her disabilities. I could see the seams.

A chance encounter with a young girl near the woods while sitting in her wheelchair sucks Elise into a murder mystery. The girl, Virginie, confides in Elise that there's a killer of young boys on the loose in their French neighborhood, and that she both knows who will next be killed, leaving Elise with the impression that she knows who the killer is. With only a slight movement of one finger as a means of communication, Elise sets herself to solving the mystery.

Slowly, Elise and her caregiver, Yvette, become part of the social circle revolving around Virginie's parents and these people, along with a police captain, confide in Elise and use her as a sounding board. Whatever Elise needs to know at each point in the progressing tale, someone manages to reveal to her at just the right time. Yet there is more to the serial killings than is first thought and the conclusion turns out to be rather ingenious, or would have been if I hadn't figured out half of it ahead of time simply because of things said and the fact that Elise can't see things for herself. But I don't want to give too much away. This is a rather clever mystery, but at its best, it gives the reader an intriguing peek/insight into the mind of a woman trapped inside her uncooperative body.

There's a sequel, but much as I enjoyed this, I'm not sure I want to read the next book. The most fascinating aspect of this book -- Elise's condition -- will no longer be fresh and it would need to depend more on the mystery to carry the tale. Still, this one is very much worth reading, even if you can see the pieces come together before Elise can figure them out. ( )
  ShellyS | Dec 19, 2009 |
Blind, mute paraplegic woman shares involvement, through her perceptions of sound, with investigation of serial killer whose victims are 8-year-old boys. Don't miss ( )
  wednesdayschild | Dec 15, 2008 |
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Epigraph
A man walking i a man dying. Death follows him like his shadow. -Baol Proverb
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It's raining.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Original title: La Mort des Bois
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Book description
Elise Andrioli has been left blind, mute, and quadriplegic after a terrorist bomb explosion in Northern Ireland that killed her fiancé. Back in the small suburb outside Paris where she lives, Elise leads a solitary life except for the contact that she has with her caretakers. However, a series of grisly local murders has shaken the residents. Young boys have been disappearing only to be discovered a day later, dead and horribly mutilated.

One morning, while waiting in her wheelchair outside a supermarket, Elise is approached by a small girl named Virginie, who confides that she was present when "Death from the Woods" murdered Michael, a boy reported missing several days earlier. Later that afternoon, Michael's death is confirmed on the local news. Elise is intrigued but has no idea who Virginie is or how to find her. But soon Virginie reappears and offers Elise more information about the murders. The investigating police officer suspects that Virginie is giving information to Elise that she is reluctant to give to him, and tries to set up a communication system between himself and Elise to find out what she knows. But someone else also suspects that Elise knows something — and after an accident that almost costs her her life, she must try to convey her knowledge to those around her. But how?

This first-person mystery is not only chilling, it is — incredibly — amusing. Elise is an engaging heroine with a remarkable sense of humor about her physical and mental state. There are plenty of twists and turns in this crisply translated story, and readers, far from feeling sorry for Elise, will find themselves cheering on this gutsy woman as she uses her remarkable intellect to keep herself out of danger and bring the murderer to justice.

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Elise Andrioli had it all — she was managing a bustling movie theatre, engaged to be married, surrounded by friends. But when a terrorist bomb shatters her world, leaving her blind, mute, and quadriplegic, she must be taken back to her family home near Paris.

Lately, life in this suburb has been less than tranquil — a series of grisly murders has shaken its residents. Young boys keep disappearing in the woods, only to be discovered days later, dead and horribly mutilated.

One morning, while waiting in her wheelchair outside a supermarket, Elise is approached by a strange little girl named Virginie, who confides to her that she was present when Death from the Woods murdered Michael, a little boy reported missing several days earlier. Later that afternoon, Michael's death is confirmed on the local news. All too soon, Virginie will inform Elise that she herself is a target.

Who is this girl, and how will Elise ever find her again? Why is someone trying to kill her? And how in the world is she going to convey what she knows to those around her?

Voted France's Best Thriller of 1997, brilliantly written from the perspective of a woman with "locked in syndrome," Death from the Woods proves once again that Brigitte Aubert is unquestionably one of Europe's most gifted storytellers.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425207331, Mass Market Paperback)

Penzler Pick, May 2000: This gripping mystery by one of France's top mystery writers recently won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, the equivalent of the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Elise Andrioli has been left blind, mute, and quadriplegic after a terrorist bomb explosion in Northern Ireland that killed her fiancé. Back in the small suburb outside Paris where she lives, Elise leads a solitary life except for the contact that she has with her caretakers. However, a series of grisly local murders has shaken the residents. Young boys have been disappearing only to be discovered a day later, dead and horribly mutilated.

One morning, while waiting in her wheelchair outside a supermarket, Elise is approached by a small girl named Virginie, who confides that she was present when "Death from the Woods" murdered Michael, a boy reported missing several days earlier. Later that afternoon, Michael's death is confirmed on the local news. Elise is intrigued but has no idea who Virginie is or how to find her. But soon Virginie reappears and offers Elise more information about the murders. The investigating police officer suspects that Virginie is giving information to Elise that she is reluctant to give to him, and tries to set up a communication system between himself and Elise to find out what she knows. But someone else also suspects that Elise knows something--and after an accident that almost costs her her life, she must try to convey her knowledge to those around her. But how?

This first-person mystery is not only chilling, it is--incredibly--amusing. Elise is an engaging heroine with a remarkable sense of humor about her physical and mental state. There are plenty of twists and turns in this crisply translated story, and readers, far from feeling sorry for Elise, will find themselves cheering on this gutsy woman as she uses her remarkable intellect to keep herself out of danger and bring the murderer to justice. --Otto Penzler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:07 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Elise Andrioli had it all: she was managing a bustling movie theater, engaged to be married, surrounded by friends. But when a terrorist bomb shattered her world, leaving her blind, mute, and quadriplegic, she must be taken back to her family home near Paris. Lately, life in this suburb has been less than tranquil -- a series of grisly murders has shaken its residents. Young boys keep disappearing in the woods, only to be discovered days later, dead and horribly mutilated. One morning, while waiting in her wheelchair outside a supermarket, Elise is approached by a strange little girl named Virginie, who confides to her that she was present when the Death from the Woods murdered Michael, a little boy reported missing several days earlier. Later that afternoon, Michael's death is confirmed on the local news. All too soon, Virginie will inform Elise that she herself is a target. Who is this girl, and how will Elise ever find her again? Why is someone trying to kill her? And how in the world is she going to convey what she knows to those around her? Voted France's Best Thriller of 1997, brilliantly written from the perspective of a woman with "locked-in syndrome, " Death from the Woods proves once again that Brigitte Aubert is unquestionably one of Europe's most gifted storytellers.… (more)

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