22 Aug 2012

Is it really Super in Cannes?

Ever dreamt of emigrating to France? In the U.K. it seems like it is a dream that  most people entertain every once in a while. Paris is just on the other side of the Channel and if you then drive south for a few hours, you'll be in the beautiful Provencal countryside where a smell of lavender is in the air and where all the women are gorgeous in that French way. At least that seems to be the perception and it definitely is the vision that Paul and his wife Jane from J. G. Ballard's novel "Super-Cannes" have when they up sticks and move to Cannes.

Jane is a 27-year-old doctor who married Paul, an older man and a pilot, while he was in the hospital after a nasty flying accident. When she is offered a role as a resident doctor at the prestigious Eden-Olympia business park just outside Cannes, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Leaving a grey, miserable London behind and pursuing the possibilities that a great laboratory and lots of funding will provide. Paul, the protagonist of the story, is happy to tag along. He is head over heels in love with his teenage doctor, as he calls her, and he is still recovering from the accident and is hoping that the sun and the lazy days by the poolside will do him good.
As they settle into the pace of life at Eden-Olympia, a modern piece of paradise where all you need is inside the gates, Paul starts to become restless. In his restlessness he begins to ask questions - what happened to the doctor who previously held Jane's position? Why did he suddenly (?) snap and murder ten people in a shooting spree? And were they victims chosen at random or were they carefully selected?
Early on it becomes clear that there is more lurking beneath the surface of paradise than visible to the naked eye but what it is and how it will impact the lives of Jane and Paul remains hidden until the last pages of this thrilling novel.

"Super-Cannes" is exceptionally well-written. If you are one of those people who like mystery or thriller novels but hate the fact that the majority of them are thrash, written by people who are not exactly good at writing... then "Super-Cannes" will be for you. It is so subtle and elegant, yet despite the sunkissed setting, it sent shivers down my spine. It is so scary and the reality that Paul is trying to navigate is so distorted that he loses sight of everything but the mystery.

Read it if: You like stories about what happens behind the facade. If you like a well-written psychological thriller.


  1. I've been intrigued by this book for some time. SOunds like something I would enjoy. J.G. Ballard sometimes ventures into the very strange. This one sounds fairly grounded for him.

  2. I haven't read anything else by Ballard so have nothing to compare with but I did find it really enjoyable.