O'Brien, Martin - 'Jacquot and the Waterman'
JACQUOT AND THE WATERMAN introduces Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot of the Marseilles police. Jacquot is a former International rugby player, famous for having scored a winning try against England. The Waterman is a serial killer who at the start of the book has murdered at least three young women in Marseilles and is suspected of more around the country. The killer's MO is to drug, rape and drown the victims, leaving their bodies in various watery locations such as a fountain as well as the more obvious nearby sea. The killer leaves no clues or forensic evidence and the police are stumped, meanwhile the interval between murders is shortening.
It's not just the murders affecting Marseilles as a new master criminal has come to town. Large-scale drugs are being imported and officials from customs to planning departments are being blackmailed. All this is overseen by one man, Raissac, a man whose face has been hideously deformed. Jacquot's investigations bring him in to contact with Raissac and slowly Raissac's empire crumbles.
From the title, I was expecting this to be a nail biting chase between Jacquot and the killer but the story isn't constructed that way at all. It's told from a vast number of points of view, from Jacquot, the killer, Raissac, Raissac's driver, the blackmail victims, a couple of murder victims and so on down to that of a seagull which discovers a body. With an average chapter length of four pages I would have expected this to be a quick read but I found the many characters slowed it down. The mystery I was most interested in, ie catching the serial killer, was almost secondary to the other criminal activities and took up less than half the book. I enjoyed Jacquot's chapters and I found him a likeable character and would have preferred to have read more from him. The Marseilles setting was well evoked and the incorporation of French words was tastefully done ie not followed by the English translation, which is how some authors convey the fact that their characters are not speaking in English.
Daniel Jacquot returns, in September 05, in JACQUOT AND THE ANGEL.
Karen Meek, England