Skin Deep by Antonia Lassa, translated by Jacky Collins – review

Published by Corylus Books

Publication date – 15 May 2023

Source – review copy

When police arrest eccentric loner Émile Gassiat for the murder of a wealthy woman in a shabby seaside apartment in Biarritz, Inspector Canonne is certain he has put the killer behind bars.
Now he just needs to prove it.

But he hasn’t reckoned with the young man’s friends, who bring in lawyer-turned-investigator Larten to head for the desolate out-of-season south-west of France to dig deep into what really happened.
Larten’s hunt for the truth takes him back to the bustle of Paris as he seeks to demonstrate that the man in prison is innocent, despite all the evidence – and to uncover the true killer behind a series of bizarre murders.

Inspector Canonne has a murder to solve, one that needs solving before the press pick up on the fact that a wealthy elderly woman has been murdered in a down at heels apartment. So when he finds someone who appears to have the means and motive he is happy to make the arrest. Not so happy is investigator Larten who isn’t so sure than Canonne has his man. So he sets out proving it.

This is a short sharp book. At only 119 pages it still manages to feel like a complete story, there doesn’t seem to be any places where the reader feels like they have missed some important part of a character’s personality or some clue.

That said the clues are limited, so this is not so is not so much of a book where it’s a race to see if the reader can figure out who the murderer is before the protagonist. There are a few little hints dropped just before Larten works out what happened and why. The ending doesn’t disappoint and wraps up the mystery well.

From the depiction of Canonne he is a man who worries about appearances but who ultimately is not afraid to admit he is wrong. He has made a quick arrest but doesn’t object to Larten’s investigation, especially as he too begins to wonder if he was too speedy in seeking a resolution. Larten is not afraid to express his personality, happy to flaunt his masculine and feminine sides at the same time. He is also determined. He goes with his instincts and has found that once again, they haven’t let him down.

There’s often little that can be said about short books without giving the whole thing away so all I will add is that this is a great book to  while away a couple of hours with. I look forward to reading more from Antonia Lassa in the future.

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