In the 1960s, Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922-2008) emerged as the foremost exponent of the Nouveau Roman ("New Novel") approach to writing, which encouraged novelists to experiment with subject matter and style. Best known in America for the screenplay of Alain Resnais's 1961 classic Last Year at Marienbad, the Frenchman remains one of the 20th century's boldest and most distinctive authors of fiction.
Confronted with eight murders in eight days, the authorities of an unnamed European city believe that a terrorist group is at work. After the ninth killing, the investigation is turned over to special police agent Wallas—but he is not what he seems, and indeed, he may be very closely tied to the crimes. While loosely following the conventions of a detective novel, Robbe-Grillet's 1953 debut innovatively probes for answers to the ultimate questions: What is truth? And can it be known?