Tag Archives: Thriller

John Grisham, Sycamore Row (L’allée du sycomore)


This is a conventional legal procedural depicting small town or rural administration of justice where old judges hold quite a bit of sway due to their long tenure. There was nothing surprising in this book, and nothing new in terms of the contemporary perception of race relations in the deep South. Similarly as other Grisham novels I have read, the main character is a younger lawyer who is confronted with a new challenge, and his association with more experienced professionals given the occasion for “teachable moments” and some lengthy discourse or dialogues about the history of some legal approaches or practical approaches that can be applied to deal with the challenge at hand.

The storytelling is competent, the plot is well-paced, the characters congenial although a little one-sided. The book can easily be turned into a movie scenario and one can just see this one playing out as a movie as one reads. A good escapist beach book!

I read this one in French, against my principle of reading books in the original if I can read that language, because it was lent to be by a friend who liked it. I was not crazy about the translation and use of French terms for American ones that do not reflect the structure of American institutions and culture.


Grisham, John. L’allée du sycomore. JC Lattès, 2014.  (Originally published by Random House in 2013)

Reece Hirsch, Surveillance


This is a well-paced techno-adventure novel that I quite enjoyed reading. The main character is a lawyer, Chris Bruen, with a newly opened office in the San Francisco area. He specializes in cybercrime. A potential client knocks on his door; he has stumbled on an ultra-secret government agency that has a mandate that goes beyond that of the NSA and as a result, he fears for his life. This agency uses all means of surveillance technologically available, even beyond what is permitted by law even in extraordinary circumstances. This is not in Bruen’s usual field, but he does report this to the authorities, somewhat informally. He is immediately targeted and members of his staff are killed.

He, his associate and the potential client go on the run, and much of the rest of the book is about the challenges they encounter while fleeing. They end up being mixed up with the cyber theft of a large sum of money belonging to a South American drug lord. While that may be even more dangerous that than discovering a rogue government agency, they survive.

In the end, they are back in the office but are by no means free of surveillance.

While this is an effective thriller, it is less fantastic than the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise. It is also lacking the edginess of Thomas Pynchon and William Gibson, and the political undertones of Cory Doctorow.

This book came out in March. Thanks to Net Galley and the editor for access to a review copy.


Hirsch, Reece. Surveillance. Thomas and Mercer, 2016.


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La chorale du diable, Martin Michaud



Ouf, c’est à en couper le souffle! L’intrigue est complexe, les personnages complexes et intéressants et j’ai lu presque d’une traite. Évasion garantie! J’avais entendu le nom de cet auteur québécois, sans vraiment m’y attardé, jusqu’à ce qu’un vieux copain du secondaire me le recommande. J’ai finalement trouvé le temps de lire ce livre et une fois commencé, presqu’impossible de le déposer. Certains éléments clés (que je ne dévoilerai pas!) sont plutôt invraisemblables, mais il ça vaut infiniment mieux qu’un roman convenu où voit tout venir à l’avance.


Le personnage principal, un détective nommé Victor Lessard, type torturé dans la quarantaine, a une enfance difficile. Seul survivant d’une série de meurtres suivis du suicide de son père, il s’est retrouvé sans famille. L’esprit de son jeune frère Raymond le suit partout et il dialogue constamment avec lui. Cet esprit est plutôt bienveillant et sa présence rassure Victor. Elle contribue même à lui sauver la vie. Les autres relations de Victor sont empreintes de contradictions, surtout pour ses relations avec les femmes. Il craint l’intimité et il craint de révéler aux autres les difficultés qui ont marquées sa vie.


Martin Michaud a jusqu’à maintenant publié trois romans mettant en scène Victor Lessard, un qui a précédé La chorale du diable, et un autre plus récent. Vous pouvez être certain que ça ne sera pas très long avant que je les lise.




Michaud, Martin, La chorale du diable, Les éditions Goélette, 2011.