|Maurie Renard, science fiction & thriller author|
There is much discussion about the current ideas (circa late 1920s) about multiple personality and memory throughout most of the book. The de Prasses think that Charlot was somehow involved in the bizarre death of Mme de Prasse’s sister, Jeanne Laval (Gilberta’s mother) who was bitten by a deadly South American viper, a rare specimen captured by M. Laval who was a sometime explorer and naturalist. The twisting plot then alternates between the scheming countess and her son doing their best to expose Jean as a criminal and Jean’s desperate attempt to prove Gilberta’s mother was murdered by one of the de Prasse family members.
An excellent fast paced thriller with a surprise ending. Interesting use of snake imagery throughout as well. Typical of his French crime writing contemporaries Renard relies heavily on duplicity, disguise and misdirection about the true identities of many of the characters.
In the last five years, however, there has been a renewed interest in his work. Several new English translations by Brian Stableford have been released by Black Coat Press. They have published five of Renard's science fiction books only one of which had been previously published in an expurgated, badly translated version in the 1920s. That book was published in the US as New Bodies for Old. The new Black Coat Press edition restores its original French title of Doctor Lerne.