My latest entry for Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten books is another novel co-written by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Heart to Heart was published in the UK In 1959, in a translation by Daphne Woodward – not long, that is, after Hitchcock turned one of the duo’s earlier books into Vertigo.
Heart to Heart is rather different from other Boileau-Narcejac novels that I have read – in fact, their ability to ring the changes and their willingness to take risks are aspects of their writing that I much admire. Here the setting is the world of popular music. Jean Leprat is a young pianist who has embarked on a dangerous affair with the glamorous Eve, who is married to Faugeres, a famous songwriter who is also a selfish and sadistic husband.
Leprat is responsible for the death of Faugeres, with Eve a witness, but at first it seems that the couple have successfully covered up their involvement. But then records arrive which, when played, feature the songwriter’s last composition – and menacing messages from him.
It is a sinister and gripping set-up, but for once the authors came up with a plot that is relatively thin. I enjoyed it, but didn’t think it reached the high level of some of their other books, such as The Prisoner. The rather clunky English prose didn’t help, either. It’s a highly charged emotional thriller, and might have benefited from a less literal translation. And also, perhaps, from a protagonist rather less self-centred and weak than Jean Leprat.