Traces (TML trilogy book 01) by Alexander Jalo

I was sent a complimentary copy of this one in return for an honest review – thank you!


Daniel Bremer is a Finn living in Paris. He tries to launch his writing career while he is profiting from the abundance of Parisian cafes and lovely bookstores, Shakespeare and Company among them. One of shop assistants, Lisa, is especially helpful when it comes to books he is looking for.

One rainy day, however, Daniel meets a lovely, mysterious woman in Café Panis. She is reading an interesting book and, after a short conversation, she even agrees to meet Daniel again for a kind of shopping date but she doesn’t want to reveal her name. Unfortunately the very same day Daniel is confronted by three thugs and shot at repeatedly. Now he has to hide using every opportunity he can get. Why? He cannot answer that question. Strange, isn’t it?

My impressions:

The book was narrated from five (sic!) POVs, including the first person limited voice of the main lead, Daniel Bremer and third-person limited voices of Lisa, the shop assistant at Shakespeare and Company, and Marie Allègre, the mysterious French woman. Sometimes I found such a solution cumbersome, sometimes it didn’t bother me at all. The chapters were titled after different novels which I found original.

I really liked the first 50-60 pages. The narrative voice was smooth, the setting worked for me like a wonder (small wonder, Paris…) and the adventures of Daniel made me really curious about what would happen next. After that point, however, the prose stopped being so smooth and enticing. I know it is an English translation but still…I do think some fragments could have been changed by the editor and/or the translator. Like the one below:

„Raymond arrived quickly and Marie interpreted this as Raymond’s way to show his concern. It turned out that Raymond had come there by motorcycle, and knowing Raymond, she knew it meant that, on his way, he had broken all the traffic rules he considered to be unnecessary. To calm her nerves, she ordered a third glass of champagne along with Raymond’s order.”

Too many ‘Raymonds’ here, don’t you think?

Add to that some split infinitives (“They needed to completely take the target off guard, since he was presumably dangerous and possibly armed.”) and surprising mistakes with tenses (“Marie had left Shakespeare and Company immediately after Daniel had called from the cab.”) and you  understand why I wish the novel was edited more thoroughly. Or the translator did a better job.

What’s more? The main baddie, a domineering alpha male called Raymond was so cocksure about his abilities and skills and so clumsy that I laughed out loud several times. There was one long sex scene between Daniel and Lisa, apparently a lesbian, which was rather surprisingly good. It bothered me a bit that neither the main male lead nor any of females accompanying him ever expressed worries about money even though they were spending and spending as if money was going out of fashion the next day. Did they own a drug cartel or what? Finally did they have to be so unrealistically handsome and/or pretty, all of them? The world is full of ugly, interesting people, after all…

Final verdict:

If your country has a problem with foreign intelligence, spies or whatever get yourself an ordinary Finnish bloke – still make sure he knows how to play American Footbal. ;p Your ladies will thank you too. A strange mix between a spy novel, erotica and a thriller. Bad translation (?) plus some obvious clichés spoiled the experience for me. Meh.

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6 Responses to Traces (TML trilogy book 01) by Alexander Jalo

  1. blodeuedd says:

    I do not really think it is for me

  2. heidenkind says:

    Or is it an accurate translation of a mediocre novel? I suppose we’ll never know.

  3. Carole Rae says:

    D: Why couldn’t there be some nicknames like “Ray”, “Mo”, etc? Gah.

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