Book review: Petite Mort

Petite Mort by Beatrice Hitchman was pitched as a cross between Hitchcock and Moulin Rouge. Based on the cover description I was expecting a story about a Parisian film studio during the silent movie years, a long lost film that was never released due to a murder trial, and the scandal associated with the people involved in the film. I was actually pretty excited about it as it sounded right up my street, but unfortunately I was very disappointed in this book.

book petite mort

It’s told from several viewpoints – a journalist in the 1960s who is investigating the mystery of the lost film “Petite Mort” from 1914, the protagonist Adele who starred in the film, and a handsome director and his famous film star wife.

Although the cover wasn’t exactly lying, it was quite misleading. Yes there was a film studio and the characters in the book all had some involvement with it, but the story is mainly about Adele whose her dreams of becoming a film star become side-tracked by her romantic life quite early on. The film industry aspect ends up as a background concern rather than the intriguing expose I was hoping for.

Yes, it was technically a mystery book too and there was a great twist at the end (one I didn’t expect at all), but only the final quarter of the book really developed this mystery. I expected a book filled with suspense but this really wasn’t the case. It was quite slow-moving and flat until the very end, and actually more a coming-of-age story than the glamorous, gripping mystery I was expecting. And although Petite Mort was redeemed slightly by the unexpected final twist, I still wouldn’t really recommend this book.

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