A smart, stylish story dissecting the life of one Manfred Baumann a strangely introverted man who works at the bank in Saint-Louis and dines most lunchtimes and evenings at The Restaurant De La Cloche. He regards, in an almost salacious way, a young waitress called Adele Bedeau and when she disappears Manfred becomes the chief suspect and is pursued relentlessly by Inspector Gorski of the Saint-Louis police.
This delicious novel is really the study of human behaviour, in all its quirks and oddities, and you the reader have a front row seat to observe and judge. Manfred is a wonderful character, socially inept, reserved, withdrawn, indeed some of his working and socializing colleagues are of the opinion that his preference may be towards a male rather than a female partner. He is fastidious almost a perfectionist in his approach to daily tasks... "He dressed, combed his hair and put on his watch. Back in the kitchen he laid out two croissants in a basket, butter and jam, a plate and a knife. He poured coffee into a large bowl and sat down at the table.".....
Inspector Gorski has a troubled marriage. His wife Celine, who manages and runs a fashion boutique in town, views Gorski as socially inferior but still insists that he attends social gatherings in order to "establish the Gorskis as part of the Good Society of the town." The Inspector therefore preferred to spend his day policing, and the pursuit of Manfred Baumann proves a welcome distraction.
I loved the unhurried telling of this story the unravelling of the everyday orderliness of Manfred and by doing so expose a dark secret. Can a wise and wily Gorski utilize this secret to expose the truth of Adele's disappearance and by so doing will this set in process a chain of events that may end in disaster? With a very neat and unexpected ending I was delighted, amused and thoroughly entertained by this literary work form a great writer.