In 1968, Irène Laureux’s husband was murdered during the Paris riots and his body dumped near Notre-Dame cathedral. Thirty years later, she finally catches up with his killer. With the help of American writer Martin Paige, Irène will illuminate decades of secrets and lies only to discover that her husband’s death is part of something far more sinister. From government cover-ups and police corruption to organized crime and stolen identities, the city of Paris is not always full of light.
Remain in Light, the second novel in Collin Kelley’s Conquering Venus Trilogy, started off slowly for me. I struggled through the first 20 pages or so, which revisits the first novel more than drives this one forward. For readers who are joining this saga in the middle, it may help, but it bogs things down. Thankfully, this hiccup is slight and Kelley begins the story at hand.
He introduces several new characters and lays multiple narrative layers atop each other. There’s a lot going on here. For some writers, this complexity would be too much, but he uses it to his advantage. Just when I feel like resolution is around the bend, something changes, or we find out something new about a character we thought we knew well. Suspense is always increasing.
As much as I enjoy the suspense, character development is Kelley’s primary achievement. Most suspense novels I’ve read focus on two or three main characters, leaving everyone else in two dimensions. Not here. Kelley gives us a large cast, then brings them to life, a full life. I don’t find myself loving certain characters while hating others; I find myself seeking to understand them all and finding that I can’t quite get there. But I’ll keep trying when the third book comes out.
Any suspense author can keep you turning pages with exciting action. Few can teach you about humanity along the way, but Kelley does just that. I give Remain in Light 4 of 5 stars.
Buy the Kindle edition here.
Paperback due out January 2012.