Page-turningly good: A plane crash, a lone survivor. Who is it?

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Published: September 20, 2015 12:09:14 AM

AT FIRST, it seems like an open and shut case. How difficult could it be to find out the identity of the sole survivor of an airplane crash?

AT FIRST, it seems like an open and shut case. How difficult could it be to find out the identity of the sole survivor of an airplane crash? But Michel Bussi takes the reader through a sizeable 350-plus page trail—quite an exasperating one at times—to give you the answer. The twist in the tale, when it comes, takes your breath away, making you forget your irritation at drawing out what seemed like an obvious story, quite deceptively so.

That’s the mark of a good thriller—making the reader furiously turn the pages, resisting the temptation of reading the end to kill the suspense.

The story is set in the early Eighties. A plane from Istanbul to Paris crashes in the French mountains, killing all passengers on board, except a three-month-old baby girl. Two sets of grandparents step forward to claim her, one rich and one poor, both firm that it is their granddaughter that survived.

DNA testing was not still available, and all other possible clues are exhausted. Amazingly, both sets of grandparents had not seen their grandchild till the crash, making identification even more difficult.

The matter goes to court, and after a clever twist by a clever lawyer, the poor grandparents get the benefit of the doubt.

But things don’t end here. A private detective is hired by the rich claimants to uncover the mystery, and after 18 years of a futile investigation, he contemplates suicide, reaching a dead end. But just as he is about to pull the trigger, he discovers something that solves the case. But before he can reveal what he has found, he is murdered.

What did he discover? What did the results of the DNA test, done eventually a few years after the crash, reveal? Which family does the girl belong to? The answers lie in a clever plot by Bussi, deftly interwoven, fooling even the most die-hard thriller fan. Unputdownable!

After the Crash  
Michel Bussi
Hachette
Pp 432
Rs 399

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