Montecristo is a classic conspiracy thriller with a contemporary twist not always seen in crime fiction. Its plot is familiarly hinged on a shocking death that opens a veritable pandora’s box of dodgy loose ends, and goes on to weave through several incomprehensibly interconnected worlds – but it also features a celebrity video journalist as protagonist, and comments sensibly on the banking crisis. All the while, it’s working in a clever nod to its title’s forebear, 1844’s The Count of Monte Cristo, via our main character’s unfinished film project.
It’s also really spooky. Without spoiling any plot points, Martin Suter incriminates the banking world, high-flying (but still fictional) Swiss politicians, and even our beloved creative industries. With such a wide-ranging set of villains, it’s no surprise that most review coverage from readers of its original German-language publication centred on the terror this book induces. Reading it is like watching a scary movie that’s a bit too realistic for you to sleep soundly after. We’ve all got reason to never trust a banker again, but Montecristo slowly turns the entire world against Jonas Brand – a young journalist who happens to witness a high-profile suicide – and while reading you can’t help but feel the world is turning in against you, too. One Munich reviewer felt tempted to start stuffing their cash under their mattress instead of having to face a bank teller again.
Luckily, you won’t be held in its shadow for too long, because it’s a book you’ll fly through – out of necessity. With a plot that’ll grip you on every page and a breezy style that’ll draw you in to the wee hours of the night, its 290 pages can feel like a lot less. Strong points of the novel include Suter’s impressive depth of research that shows itself in the startling plausibility of his conspiracy, and the smart, sparse use of Brand’s unique view as a video journalist as the lens through which we see events unfold.
Montecristo is published 23 June by No Exit
Post by Heather
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