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The mystery begins in the Readers’ Room


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Tilburg International Club Expat Book Clubreview by Anne Durand

8 Feb 2023. We met to discuss the book The Readers’ Room, by Antoine Laurain. It is a short book, translated from French (everyone agreed the translation was excellent!), with a lot of suspense. We discussed how the author’s greatest source of inspiration – fairytales – might show up in the story, mental health, artificial intelligence and how art/fiction can inspire or even foretell (!!) reality. Overall, we quite liked the book, although not everyone was convinced about the ending. 

The Book

Like many of Laurain’s novels, this book centers on an object: a book. More specifically, a manuscript from a mysterious author that arrives at the reader’s room of a Parisian publishing house.

This debut crime novel ends up published and, spectacularly, longlisted for the most prestigious French literary prize, the Prix Goncourt. Except that the author is nowhere to be found… and that the crimes described in the book look strangely like recently committed murders! Violaine Lepage, the book editor, is looking for answers – and she even starts to wonder what role she might play in the book itself… 

Tilburg International Club Expat Book ClubReviews of the Book

‘The plot blends mystery with comedy to great effect, and, as ever, Laurain has fun at the expense of his countrymen’ Daily Mail 

‘A stylish whodunnit blended with an affectionate send-up of the world of books’ Sunday Mirror 

‘[An] elegantly written little gem… the whole thing is such fun’ The Big Issue 

‘Laurain has spun a fantastically intricate web here, where the smallest detail could be significant, and, no matter how sure you are that you’ve grasped it, he is one step ahead. Joyously far-fetched and metafictional’ The Herald 

From the Back Cover

From the author of The Red Notebook, described as ‘Parisian perfection’ by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, The Readers’ Room is a thrilling murder mystery set in the world of publishing. ‘The plot blends mystery with comedy to great effect’- Daily Mail When the manuscript of a debut crime novel arrives at a Parisian publishing house, everyone in the readers’ room is convinced it’s something special. And the committee for France’s highest literary honour, the Prix Goncourt, agrees. But when the shortlist is announced, there’s a problem for editor Violaine Lepage: she has no idea of the author’s identity. As the police begin to investigate a series of murders strangely reminiscent of those recounted in the book, Violaine is not the only one looking for answers. And, suffering memory blanks following an aeroplane accident, she’s beginning to wonder what role she might play in the story … Antoine Laurain, bestselling author of The Red Notebook, combines intrigue and charm in this dazzling novel of mystery, love and the power of books.

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