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The Moment Before Drowning

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In 1959, a French Resistance hero investigates a murder in a small Breton town, while awaiting his own trial.

December 1959: a furious anticolonial war rages in Algeria. Captain Jacques le Garrec, a former detective and French Resistance hero, returns to France in disgrace, traumatized after two years of working in the army intelligence services, and accused of a brutal cri
Hardcover, 239 pages
Published July 3rd 2018 by Akashic Books
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarything
Capitaine Jacques le Garrec has returned to Paris in disgrace. He was a hero in the French Resistance but now is facing charges of a terrible crime that occurred in Algiers, where he was working in the Army Intelligence Service. While he’s waiting trial, he’s asked to investigate the unsolved murder of a local teenage girl. The French town where this murder took place has a history of German occupation that has left its impact on the residents. As le Garrec looks into the murder, his memories of ...more
Carol Ann
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Terrific and gripping debut!
Detective Jacques le Garrec returns home to Brittany to await trial for potential war crimes committed in Algeria. While home, le Garrec's friend asks him to help solve the grisly murder of a student at the local school. Absolute page-turner and highly recommended. Graphic violence.
Tonstant Weader
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Moment Before Drowning has everything I love in a mystery, a strong sense of place, a historical connection in time and place, rich language and description, intrigue, moral equivocation, a complex and flawed main character, and literature and philosophy are woven into the thoughts and conversations of the main characters. Add to that, it takes place in the same setting as Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police series, and I was eager to read.

In The Moment Before Drowning, Jacques le Gerrac
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Stay tuned for a full review which will posted to my blog
Oct 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
I wanted to enjoy this book, but ultimately gave up on it. I was intrigued by the narrator's past in Algiers and wanted to see how the two major storylines tied together, but not badly enough that I could make myself finish what turned out to be a very clunky novel. Even though it's a short read, I just couldn't make myself stick with it to the end. While this book has moments where the paragraphs grabbed me and made me want to watch the plot play out, those moments were overshadowed by my frust ...more
Kerry Pickens
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
I received this book as an ARC from Askashic Books, and read in the book in two evenings. It's probably one of the most interesting books I have read lately. You could describe it as French noir, but noir is the sense that the film Casablanca was noir. The main character fought in the French resistance and then Algeria, and returns to France to charged with a war crime. While waiting for the trial, he investigates the death of a young girl who was half German. The book perfectly captures those t ...more
(I received an ARC from a Goodreads Giveaway.)

The Moment Before Drowning tells the story of a previously lauded resistance hero during the French-Algerian war. Jacques le Garrec is sent back to his sleepy seaside French hometown after being accused of a heinous crime while serving in Algeria. As soon as he arrives home, a past acquaintance pleads for him to investigate a recent murder of a young woman. As Garrec begins investigating the murder, the truth about the Algerian crime is also brought
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
An atmospheric thriller in the tradition of French existential crime – by an English man paying homage I think. A disgraced army officer returns to France to face trial by his peers for crimes committed in occupied Algeria – themselves a moveable concept given the history of how the French army kept control there. Years ago I saw the film “The Battle of Algiers” and footage from that kept returning to mind as I read Brydon’s novel. Details of what he, and his peers, did are brutal and unsparing ...more
Laura Henderson
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set in the aftermath of WWII, as Europe is still dealing in the aftermath of the French Resistance, this novel follows Captain Jacques Le Garrec. Jacques had been accused of a brutal crime and is awaiting trial. While awaiting his fate he investigates a brutal murder that happened in the Previous winter.

As the novel delves deeper and deeper into this mystery, the novel becomes more and more suspenseful. This novel is fantastically written and well researched. The time period is on point as it de
Allen Pasternak
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As I read this book, the concept of “literary mystery” kept nagging at the back of my brain until it emerged at the forefront. I’m not even sure what a “literary mystery” is. Is the term applied to the likes of Crime & Punishment and The Stranger”? While this novel has similarities to both of those, that’s not it. This one is a more tidy fit into the mystery genre without being genre fiction. There are two crimes at the heart of this story - one in Algeria in 1959 as the French fought terrorists ...more
Rick Mitchell
Dec 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
First the writing. I thought this was a translation and was shocked to see the author was English. I thought then he must be a professor, but he is a crossword writer. Perhaps that is why the choice of words that was stilted and at times seemed as if a thesaurus was nearby.

Then the plots. Two of them, actually. Both filled with torture and human mutilation. Dark stuff, for sure. Nothing much else. This seems to be an expose on human cruelty.

One of the more annoying things is the interceding of t
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Brydon's novel has two story lines. Captain Jacques le Garrec, a Resistance war hero and successful detective, has been drafted into the French army during the Algerian Rebellion. Serving in French intelligence, he commits what is characterized as a war crime, and is sent back to france too await trial. While waiting, he returns to his boyhood home, where he is persuaded by a friend to investigate the murder of a young woman a bit less than a year earlier. The novel switches between le Garrec's ...more
Jim Courter
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
The late Ruth Cavins, who edited the mystery imprint of St. Martin's Press, liked to refer to the best mysteries as works of literature about crime. The Moment Before Drowning meets that description. It's dark, with almost no relief to the tension. I'd prefer that the foreign-language passages, especially the poetry that serves as clues, be rendered into English, and in a couple of places characters hold forth on colonialism in ways that sound like they're being read from a tract on political co ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This book was very dark and intense. I thought the author pulled everything together very well at the end and connected the protagonist's experiences in Algiers with the case he was working on. One technical thing that bugged me-- if you're quoting a poem in another language, please give the readers a translation. It is frustrating not knowing what's being referred to. Thanks to the publisher for proving an ARC of the book. ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I found that the last couple chapters are really the strength of this book. The excitement of the mystery and the main characters motives are at their most compelling. I was misdirected just enough about the identity of the true culprit that I kept second guessing my own thoughts. Unfortunately, it was hard for me to become invested in any of the characters and I spent a lot of the book unsure if the pace was ever going to pick up.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
A powerful narrative as the tormented protagonist seeks to solve a bewildering mystery, while reliving his deeply disturbing past. Moral and ethical decisions posed during both World War II and in French Algeria are brought to the fore and given real consequences. The author’s strong and vigorous writing pulls the story along and makes it hard to put the book down.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as an ARC from Akashic books through Librarything.

What a great debut. So much to like. The atmosphere was amazing, the historical context fascinating, and the moral implications deep and relevant to today’s society.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not really a fan of this book; there were some anachronisms that didn't seem to fit the time frame of the period in which the book was set. Had a hard time getting past some of the unecessarily long and complex work choices -- i.e. putrefaction instead of rot or decay. ...more
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This mystery is told in a refreshing new way, different from any other mystery I've ever read. It almost becomes more of an internal struggle for the investigator as he deals with some post traumatic stress. I thought it was a really good book! ...more
Joanne Garbato
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Love the darkness of this mystery. Good debut for James Brydon.
Terri Anderson
This was just too violent and dark for my taste.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Police thriller based in 1959 of a hero, guilty of the actions of the Algerian French interrogators and accused of murder, comes home to Brittany to solve another murder and find his ownself.
Sandy Fauser
Aug 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
I could not get into this book at all. The wording did not flow for me therefore I just couldn't grasp the story. ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Intensely descriptive, often thought provoking. At times, it got very dark and violent.
Christine Castaldi
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it
A combination of detective story and historical fiction! Very good!
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very poetic. You can tell this author is a crossword puzzle compiler. Intellectually challenging.
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Not my usual read. A dark mystery novel set in France.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Within this murder-mystery, we follow Jacques le Garrec, a French resistance hero and former detective who has just returned to his hometown village in Brittany to await his trial for a crime he is being accused of during his work with the Algerian police. Once he arrives, he is asked to aid in the murder investigation of a young woman whose body was found mutilated and left for the public eye the previous winter. Le Garrec has just over a week to dig up information that has been forgotten, lost ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a good gook until I got toward the end and there was a mistake that should have been caught by an editor, or the author since the blurb makes him sound do intelligent.
I don't read a lot of history/historical stuff, so it was an interesting read about ann interrogation officer in Algeria during the Resistance. While back in France awaiting trial for a criminal act, he investigates a cold case murder. I liked the mood of the book and enjoyed the writing style and philosophical conversati
Dec 21, 2018 added it
Shelves: abandoned
Slow, dark and depressing.
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