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A bestseller in France and winner of the Prix Renaudot, By a Slow River is a mesmerizing and atmospheric tale of three mysterious deaths in an oddly isolated French village during World War I.
The placid daily life of a small town near the front seems impervious to the nearby pounding of artillery fire and the parade of wounded strangers passing through its streets. But the illusion of calm is soon shattered by the deaths of three innocents—the charming new schoolmistress who captures every male heart only to kill herself; an angelic ten-year-old girl who is found strangled; and a local policeman’s cherished wife, who dies alone in labor while her husband is hunting the murderer. Twenty years later, the policeman still struggles to make sense of these tragedies, a struggle that both torments and sustains him. But excavating the town’s secret history will bring neither peace to him nor justice to the wicked.
“A grave, achingly beautiful novel. . . . He endows the people he writes about with a jagged humanity.”
—The New York Times
“A haunted, grief-shadowed tale. . . . Claudel has a talent for swift, sure characterization.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“[Claudel] evokes, with Poe-like mastery, the fog of apprehension that seeps into a small town after the murder of a young girl.”