A thriller that explores the nature vs. nurture issue, “After the crash” tells the story of a three-month-old survivor of a horrific plane crash.
When, on December 23, 1980, a plane carrying 169 passengers crashes into the Jura Mountains between France and Switzerland, there is only one tiny survivor. But given that the plane carried not one, but two three-month-old infant girls, the survivor’s identity is shrouded in mystery and controversy.
Because the scientific method of proving identity via means of DNA was not yet available, there was a long court case trying to prove just exactly WHO was this baby girl as the babies have the same blood type. The newspapers coined her ‘Dragonfly’.
Two families vied for this tiny girl. An ultra-rich family, the de Carvilles, who could provide their granddaughter Lyse-Rose with a privileged, aristocratic life; and, the poor Vitral family who would cherish and nurture their granddaughter Emilie Vitral, in the best way that they could. The press began calling her Lylie, an amalgam of the two girls’ names.
Though doubt remained, the custody case was eventually ‘won’ by the working class Vitral family. Emilie was brought up alongside her older brother Marc. Her hardworking grandparents provided for the family by running a food catering van which they drove to all tourist events and community festivals.
Tasked by the powerful de Carville family to discover the true identity of ‘Lylie’ was a private investigator named Crédule Grand-Duc. A meticulous and tenacious man who devoted years of his life to the investigation and was reimbursed handsomely for his efforts by the de Carvilles. He considered it to be an unsolvable mystery. It was only eighteen years later, just after Emilie’s eighteenth birthday in 1998, that Grand-Duc discovered the key to the puzzle that had plagued him for so long.
Meanwhile, Marc Vitral wants to believe that his ‘sister’ Emilie is not really his sister at all. He wants, no… needs her to be Lyse-Rose de Carville. He loves the beautiful and intelligent Emilie like no brother should…
The reader is provided with all the clues and could presumably figure out the girl’s identity. Or at least who she wasn’t…
Red herrings and plot twists abound. I didn’t figure it out. I’m glad I didn’t because it made the last hundred or so pages of the novel just fly by.
With a seemingly unsolvable identity question, interesting characters, murder, incest, and madness, this thriller has everything for fans of the genre. A bestseller in France, this is the first novel by Michel Bussi to be released in North America.
Michel Bussi is the author of Black Water Lilies and After the Crash and is one of France’s most celebrated crime authors. The winner of more than 15 major literary awards, he is a professor of geography at the University of Rouen and a political commentator.