23387402One of my weaknesses in literature is reading books by non-American authors. They bring a different outlook, a different landscape to my reading. I also love the language differences – it adds a richness that is often missing in the more mundane voice of ‘American English’.

Heart Collector is translated from the French, and I was looking forward to the ‘quirks’ of French to add to the writing. Add in the police procedural and mystery, along with a slight undertone of supernatural, and I settled in for a highly enjoyable read.

The problem is, it really wasn’t all that enjoyable, for several reasons. I don’t know if it is because the translator couldn’t resist “Americanizing” the language, but the uniqueness of the French language was literally “lost in translation”. Disappointing.

The next thing that bothered me was Jacques Vandroux’s apparent lack of respect for his female characters. Calling a dedicated 30+ year old police officer a “young woman” (ad nauseum) is demeaning to the character. Again, translation issue, or does Vandroux really not feel his character is worthy of respect?

The overall story, a serial killer who takes human hearts, is actually quite clever. I just didn’t feel that the writer was truly involved in his story. You can tell when a writer likes his characters, when they wake up every morning excited to write once more. I didn’t get that feeling from this book. It was more as if it were a slog rather than a joy. Again – boredom of the writer, or just a really poor translation?

Three stars because I don’t want to blame the writer, but at the same time, control of the translation could have been better managed if that is the true issue and not poor writing on Mr. Vandroux’s part.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. With a better translation, I may be able to give it a better review.

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