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During the First World War five French soldiers, accused of a cowardly attempt to evade duty, are bundled into no-man's land and certain death. Five bodies are later recovered, the families are notified that the men died in the line of duty and the whole, distasteful incident appears closed. After the war the fiancee of one of the men receives a letter which hints at what might have happened. Mathilde Donnay determines to discover the fate of her beloved amid the carnage of battle. A Very Long Engagement turns into an unusual and engrossing thriller as she discovers an increasing number of people trying to put her off the scent. Japrisot's achievement is to have written a novel that is both a suspenseful thriller and one which transforms a single small incident into the epitome of all wartime atrocities. The denouement, when it finally happens, is moving and horribly convincing.
S-bastien Japrisot was born in Marseille, France in 1931. He had published his first novel, Les Mal Partis when he was only 17. He has translated the works of J. D. Salinger and pursued a successful career in advertising and publicity. He has been a scriptwriter and the director of two films. His first crime novel, The 10-30 from Marseille, was received with great acclaim. His reputation as a master for crime fiction has grown with the publication of The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun, A Trap for Cinderella and Rider on the Rain. His novel One Deadly Summer was made into a film starring Isabelle Adjani. A Very Long Engagement was an international bestseller and won the Prix Interalli-.