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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Serge Joncour

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To purchase UV

Title: UV
Author: Serge Joncour
Genre: Novel
Written: 2003 (Eng. 2005)
Length: 187 pages
Original in: French
Availability: UV - US
UV - Canada
U.V. - Canada (French)
U.V. - France
  • French title: U.V.
  • Translated by Adriana Hunter
  • Awarded the Prix Roman France Télévisions 2003

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Our Assessment:

B : effective little psychological thriller

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       UV is almost all atmosphere, a sense of menace that grows and then ebbs like a tide, washing away the traces of the apparent danger only to have them reappear, more clearly than ever. It is set almost entirely on an island where the Chassagnes, a wealthy family, are preparing for the French 14th of July celebrations. Already present are the parents, daughters Julie and Vanessa, son-in-law André-Pierre, and some grandchildren -- but the family black sheep, Philip, hasn't turned up yet.
       The book begins when a stranger appears, Boris. He says he went to school with Philip, and he soon makes himself comfortable -- and the others are soon comfortable with him (save André-Pierre, who has his doubts and doesn't like the attention his wife pays Boris). The new-comer is a slightly unsavoury, uncouth fellow, but somehow he manages to fit in. And he is a friend of Philip, after all. Except that no one has heard from Philip in a while .....
       It's not immediately clear what game Boris is playing, but this is a book of games and feints, Joncour driving up the tension, and then pulling back again. He does it quite well: various encounters are nicely charged, and one-on-one combat such as in a tennis game easily ratchets up the tension. The locale -- an island where the last ferry leaves in the early evening, surrounded by dangerous currents and shoals, -- helps add to the sense of menace.
       It seems fairly clear what has happened -- something (obviously terrible) happened to Pierre, and Boris now plans to do something (likely also terrible) here -- but to Joncour's credit, while the novel unfolds fairly predictably for much of the way there are some nice twists thrown in.
       The success of the book lies in the psychological drama Joncour sets out -- and then the rug(s) he eventually pulls out from under the reader. The portraits of the characters -- the jealous son-in-law, the parents, and especially Boris -- are effective, but it's all to that one end. The pay-off is good, but there's perhaps a bit too much emphasis placed on those final, unexpected twists. Still, a fine little psychological thriller in the Highsmith tradition, a good pass-time book.

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UV: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Serge Joncour was born in 1961.

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© 2005-2009 the complete review

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