Mister Memory, by Marcus Sedgwick

Most of us wish we had better memories. It would be nice not to blank on names and dates when under pressure. But I don’t think any of us would want a memory as perfect as Marcel Despres’. In Marcus Sedgwick’s Mister Memory, Marcel remembers everything from the time he was born (even before if we can believe him). He gets lost in Proustian reveries that can last for hours as details remind him of other memories which remind him of something else entirely. He’s even managed to turn his memory into a career. Unfortunately for Marcel, his memory regularly forces him to relive the moment when he shot his wife and killed her.

We meet Marcel shortly after the day he shot his wife. There’s no question about what happened. He caught his wife with her lover and shot her with the gun they had just bought. Marcel admits it to the police who show up. But instead of shipping him off to Devil’s Island, the local prefect of police decides to send him to Les Invalides, a Parisian mental asylum. His doctor is fascinated and keeps testing Marcel to see just how extensive Marcel’s memory is and how it works—and we start to see his memory as a curse.

Meanwhile, an inspector who can’t let Marcel’s case go keeps asking questions. First, the questions are about why Marcel was sent to Les Invalides instead of the prison colony. Then he asks about Marcel’s wife and her past. More and more loose threads appear and it turns out that the case of the man with the perfect memory, who can remember every moment of his wife’s shooting, is a lot more complicated than anyone realized.

When I first started Mister Memory, I was interested in the character Sedgwick created. I got lost with Marcel in his memories of life in turn-of-the-twentieth-century France. But what really hooked me were the spectacular twists that started coming about halfway through the book. This is one of the best plotted books I’ve read in a while.

I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss for review consideration. It will be released 7 March 2017.


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