I recently finished Asylum by Jeannette de Beauvoir and I knew immediately that it was going to end up in the Book Recommendation section of my blog.
As I’ve done for several of the books I’ve recommended, I won Asylum on Facebook during a book launch party for another author (not Ms. De Beauvoir). I wasn’t able to get to it for a while because I was busy reading so many other books, but once I finally sat down to read it I loved it.
Asylum is the story of Martine LeDuc, who works for the City of Montreal as the marketing director. Martine wakes up one morning to find there has been a fourth victim in a series of brutal murders in the city. As the mayor’s liaison to the city’s police department, Martine is tasked with making sure the police are looking day and night for the killer and reporting the department’s progress to her boss. These killings are, after all, a huge smudge on the city’s reputation. The police put a man in custody for the murders, but Martine is convinced the man is innocent of the crimes. Working with a detective on the force, Julian Fletcher, she begins to investigate the crimes on her own, following clues that lead her straight into Montreal’s past.
Martine delves into a dark period of Montreal’s history that has been buried in the memories of some, forgotten by others, and is rarely spoken of in polite company. It is the systematic conversion of some of Montrel’s most unfortunate orphanages into asylums, institutions for the mentally ill. In the asylums these children, known as the Duplessis Orphans, were the unwitting and terrified human subjects in monstrous “medical” experiments that were performed at the behest of some very influential people and organizations both inside and outside of Canada.
As the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place, Martine finds herself in danger that she didn’t see coming–danger that threatens to turn her into the fifth victim.
This book was a fascinating read. The Duplessis Orphans really did exist, and many of them really were human subjects for bizarre drug experiments. Jeannette de Beauvoir has woven a story combining history and fiction that had me on the edge of my seat. From the beginning right through to the breathless climax, the story moves at a fast pace. The characters are complex, and the setting is incredible. Though I did eventually guess who the killer was, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the story one single bit (mostly because I wasn’t sure of it until the end). I suspected almost everyone at one point or another.
And bonus: if you like French, you will find much to love in this book. Snippets and phrases in French are sprinkled liberally throughout the book, and I found myself reading those parts out loud and repeatedly just to hear the lilt of the language. It’s gorgeous.
I hope you’ll check out Asylum and let me know what you think. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it recently, if you read it please consider leaving the author a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Authors appreciate reviews, and I’m sure Ms. de Beauvoir would love it!
Until next week,