First look: Mister Memory

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In the world of crime fiction you judge a man by the cut of his jib, so what’s so wrong with judging a book by its cover? This one has just arrived at Crime Fiction Lover HQ and it certainly takes a step away from the clichéed cover designs we’ve been seeing a lot of late. You know, those jackets with a stock photo of some indistinct-looking character who’s disappearing down a road or into some woods, Photoshopped over to look a bit spooky and menacing, perhaps with a broken glass or dripping blood pattern in the background. Mulholland has commissioned some fine jackets of late and Mister Memory benefits from a design that has the composition of an Art Nouveau lithograph by Alphonse Mucha, and the execution of a 70s horror comic.

All the requisite symbolism is there too – a couple of skulls, six-shooters, a mysterious map of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, a steam engine, a disembodied brain… and maybe there’s even a bit of crucifixion going on at the top. According to the press release, Marcus Sedgwick is an author to be trusted and here he’s crafted the tale of Marcel Després – a man with a perfect memory. Now, often in crime fiction the man with the perfect memory is a witness, the victim, or even the detective. Not so with Marcel. He’s actually the accused. The year is 1899 and after apparently murdering his wife Marcel is sent to the Salpêtrière asylum.

For the policeman charged with seeing the case through to conviction, something doesn’t sit right. It’s far from open and shut, which is what his superiors are pushing for. There’s more to it than a crime of passion, and whatever’s in Marcel’s head – all those exact details – could shake the French establishment from top to toe.

The author has written 15 young adult novels in the past, and this one has a punchy narrative written in the present tense. Watch for it on Bastille Day – 14 July – at £11.99 for Kindle and £17.99 as a hardcover. Pre-order your copy here.

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