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.
A timid, unsuccessful salesman, Mathias returns to the island of his birth after a long absence. Two days later, a 13-year-old girl is found murdered. With eerie precision, Robbe-Grillet's 1955 novel puts us at the scene of the crime and takes us inside Mathias's mind, artfully enlisting us as detectives on the trail of a homicidal maniac—even while systematically raising doubts about whether anything really occurred.