Review: After The Crash

BY Shriya Garg IN A, action, Adventure-Thriller NO COMMENTS YET

After The Crash

By Michel Bussi. Grade: A

Plot Summary

This psychological thriller is a world unto itself. Originally titled Un avion sans elle by Michel Bussi in French, it has been translated into English by Sam Taylor, who, undoubtedly, has the thanks of millions of readers across the world for his efforts.

It’s 22 September 1980. 169 passengers board a plane from Istanbul to Paris. Among those are two families, worlds apart from each other, and yet strangely inter-bound: the Vitrals and the De Carvilles. Both have a beautiful baby girl, about three months old, with blue eyes and the same blood group. When the plane crashes at the Franco-Swiss border, there is only one survivor: a blue-eyed baby girl. Is she Emilie Vitral or Lyle-Rose De Carville? An epic battle begins as the grandparents from each side try to find out the truth.

Present: 18 years later

The girl is now a young woman of eighteen years, attending school in University of London. A year into the investigation, flimsy proof convinced the jury that the baby was a Vitral, and she has grown up in the impoverished Vitral family as Emilie, but all concerned parties have their reservations the truth.

Credule Grand Duc is a private investigator hired by the wealthy Carvilles to investigate the matter for eighteen years. On the eve of Emilie’s eighteenth birthday, Credule is ready to give up. He has pursued every lead, every vague clue, the slightest of coincidences, and yet, he is no closer to the truth than he was on the day of the plane crash. Devastated by his failure, he pens down his entire investigation in a green notebook for Lylie to read, and decides to end his life.

A moment before he is set to pull the trigger, he gulps down his most expensive liquor and sets the newspaper in front of him. The same newspaper which broke the story of the plane crash and its mysterious sole survivor for the first time. And he finds it. The one clue he has been looking for the last eighteen years, a clue that had been hidden in plain sight, but couldn’t have been noticed before eighteen years had passed. And yet, before he can further pursue this line of investigation, he is silenced forever.

Marc Vitral is Emilie’s brother, and yet hopelessly in love with her. He is counting on the fact that the courts made a mistake, and Emilie is in truth, Lyle-Rose. The child is thus named Lylie, a macabre combination of the words Lyle-Rose and Emilie. He is handed the green notebook by Lylie, who then tells him that she is going to take a one-way journey there is no returning from, and vanishes. It is now up to him to discover the truth behind Lylie’s cryptic goodbye, and untangle the mystery of Grand Duc’s murder. The answer to both lies in the green notebook, and it is a race against time as he realizes Lylie might be headed in a direction there’s no coming back from…


After The Crash is a gripping thriller that frequently travels back and forth in narratives and time. The writing enthralls you from the very first line. I had plenty of moments when friends would notice the book lying around, read the back cover and immediately ask if they could finish it first.

It’s easy to see why:

On the night of 22 December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames. 168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly. The miraculous sole survivor is a three-month-old baby girl. Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking an investigation that will last for almost two decades. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie?

Eighteen years later, having failed to discover the truth, private detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing an account of his investigation in the girl’s hands. But, as he sits at his desk about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything – then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone…

More than that, it’s the cryptic language, clue-upon-clue, and the layered prose which keeps the reader hooked. It gets to you eventually, the constant cliff-hangers, the slight hints that never fully materialize, the revelations that are never fully explored to your satisfaction. It’s a complex thriller that stands upon a series of coincidences that are hardly realistic, but that does not take you away from the book. Quite the opposite, in fact! Highly recommended to all fans of smart plotting and good writing.

Shriya Garg
Reader. Writer. Dreamer. Admin.

Caffeine junkie. Book smeller. Addicted to my laptop. In love with fictional characters.

College student. Aspirant Chartered Accountant. Proud member of the Harry Potter generation. Possibly thaasophobic. Whovian, with a highly inappropriate sense of humour. And the happy owner of five cats.