Martine LeDuc is the publicity director for the city of Montreal. When a string of murders threatens the municipality’s tourism industry, she is asked to be the liaison between the mayor and the police director. She is partnered with Julian Fletcher, a police detective, and together they decide to lead their own investigation. Soon they discover that the killings seem to have a link with the Duplessis Orphans and the medical experiments the CIA was conducting on these abandoned children from the 1950s to the 1970s. Are these murders the work of a deranged serial killer or the result of an even more sinister conspiration? In a parallel story told in flashbacks, a young girl, Gabrielle Roy, is brought to an orphanage and then transferred to an asylum where she witnesses the horrific treatment on these poor children while doing her best to survive.
Asylum is a compelling mystery with a great pace. The real-life story of the Duplessis Orphans is heartbreaking, and the author pays them a beautiful tribute with this book. From the 1950s to the 1970s, single mothers or poor families were forced to abandon their children in orphanages. The kids were then transferred to asylums because the government provided more funding to these institutions. At the same time, the CIA was running a mind-control research program called MK-Ultra in Quebec and was testing drug-induced mind-control techniques on children in the asylums. As a result, these poor kids were abused and tortured, and many of them died. This dark part of Quebec’s history should not be ignored, and I admire Jeannette de Beauvoir for writing about it.
I was also drawn to Asylum because of where it is taking place. I live a couple hours’ drive from Montreal and I have been there many times, so I enjoyed the references to the Old City and other landmarks. However, I thought it was a bit of a stretch that a publicity director for the city of Montreal would help the police in a murder case. But once you accept this premise, the story is entertaining and the book hard to put down. I must say though that I did figure out who the killer was half-way through the book. But I think it was only by chance when I looked at the notes I was taking for this review. In the end, it was well worth my time to keep reading to know how Martine and Julian solved the case. I highly recommend this book.
Asylum was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review.
Fun facts about the book and the author:
- Jeannette de Beauvoir was born in Angers, France, and now divides her time between Montreal and Cape Cod.
- She lived in a haunted house for 3 months when researching supernatural occurrences for a book.
- Like her main character Martine, the author loves wine and has a preference for a good Bordeaux.
- If the book was made into a movie, she would like Michelle Dockery to play Martine (provided she can manage a French-Canadian accent).
About the author and her work: Jeannette de Beauvoir’s Website.
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