Je n'aime pas dans les vieux films américains quand les conducteurs ne regardent pas la route. Et de ratage en ratage, on s'habitue à ne jamais dépasser le stade du brouillon. La vie n'est que l'interminable répétition d'une représentation qui n'aura jamais lieu.

What Really Happened (1926) - Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes

After listening to them all – the famous lawyers, the witness for the Crown and for the defence, the prisoner herself, and, last but not least, the Judge, the one thing that remains in my mind is a longing to know . . . what really happened.

This book has a really interesting hook.  It starts at the end of a murder trial with the judge summing up the case for the jury.  Thus he gives a narrative of the events of the case.  Then the prologue ends and the bulk of the book is taken up in telling those events as they ACTUALLY happened.  The book has a clever structure in that each chapter of the book is titled with a line of the judge’s summation.  So in this chapter, we know we’re going to be getting the truth of what really happened versus what the judge said about it.  It’s a great hook, but unfortunately the book doesn’t really do much with it.  It’s a book so caught up with structure that it kind of lets things like character development slip; it’s a book populated with cardboard cutouts, which is a real disappointment given that Lowndes is usually super good at this.  Anyway, I was super disappointed with this book; a great structural premise and a great hook for a mystery novel, but it ended up being very predictable and shallow.  Too bad.  1 ½ stars.

tl;dr – mystery novel has a great hook revolving around starting with the end of a murder trial and then flashing back slowly to the truth, but the writing and characterizations are shallow.  1 ½ stars.

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