Double Jeopardy

In this entertaining, superbly-crafted book, Jean Echenoz exhibits the ease with language and character that has earned him an international reputation as an imaginative, ambitious novelist. His remarkable ability to weave strands of a plot with linguistic grace and wry humor is brilliantly displayed in his latest novel Double Jeopardy.

A dizzying cast of Belgian thugs, dissatisfied Malaysian farm workers, and mutinous sailors circulate among the main characters. Here is Charles, a resourceful and civilized wanderer who calls Paris’s metro tunnels home, and Jeff, the cunning manager of a Malaysian rubber plantation owned by a dissolute (and unwitting) Jouvin couple. Friends by fate in their unrequited love for Nicole Fischer, chance brings them together again thirty years later, head-long into a plot involving the smuggling of arms to Malaysia and into the hands of Jeff’s relentless plantation workers. Bob and Paul (who happens to be Jeff’s long-lost nephew) unknowingly “double” Charles and Jeff in their pursuit of Justine (Nicole’s equally aloof daughter), and are drawn into the plot while dodging the menacing “Van Os” and his band of small-time criminals. Double Jeopardy is as much an entertaining fast-paced read as a richly textured canvas of language, place, and character. Its appearance is sure to confirm Echenoz’s reputation as a writer of international importance.

A fast-paced novel involving gun-running, mutiny at sea, and unrequited love – all mixed into “an exceptionally appealing concoction”. (Booklist)

Mark Polizzoti is the author of eight books and the translator of over forty books from the French. He has received numerous awards for his writing and translation, including a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year” for his biography of Andre Breton. He writes reviews and essays for publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Nation and directs the publications program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.