Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday's Forgotten Book: Sébastien Japrisot: The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun

Still suffering from a bad back, I finished lying on a sofa the French writer Sébastien Japrisot's thriller La Dame dans l'auto avec des lunettes et un fusil (1966). I had a beat-up copy I'd found somewhere cheap, and upon noticing I already have a better copy I decided to throw this away - most certainly something I wouldn't normally do.

This is a very good crime novel. I once read somewhere that if you're a male writer, don't try a woman's point of view (unless you're Cornell Woolrich). Japrisot does it and does it very well. Of course some of the stuff in the book depicting a young woman's sexual and social disorientation is dated, but they didn't overrun the reading experience. The book reminded me a bit of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, which I liked to a certain point, but I also got weary of its longevity. Not so with Japrisot's novel, as it clocks at about 250 pages. The book starts in the middle of the woman's noir nightmare of which the characters and the reader can't possibly fathom what's going on. Japrisot likes to toy with the reader's expectations and this is far more exciting and surprising than Gone Girl. Japrisot also writes in a very French style that's both hypnotic and diffuse at the same time. This is a very engaging book and although the prose isn't the most straight-forward one, you can't help but read the book in one sitting.

The book was made into a British movie in 1970 with Samantha Eggar and Oliver Reed. Haven't seen it, though. Seems like there's no decent DVD on it. Here's a good blog post on the film.

More Forgotten Books coming up here.

Edit: I forgot to mention it, but I read the Finnish translation from 1967. The title means "The Woman in the Car". Guess this was clear to anyone. Crime Club (with the nice logo) was a quality paperback series from the large Finnish publishing house Otava back in the late sixties. 


mybillcrider said...

I read this on in English about 40 years ago. All I remember is that I liked it.

J F Norris said...

"I once read somewhere that if you're a male writer, don't try a woman's point of view (unless you're Cornell Woolrich)"

Bill Pronzini wrote that. It's a concept he mentions frequently and turns up in several of his essays and introductions.

I like the movie (saw it back in the VHS days) but have never read the book.

Unknown said...

I liked the book, liked the movie which i wish was on dvd. Rider on the Rain is equally good, book and movie.

jurinummelin said...

Rider on the Rain is a good film, haven't read the book.