Publisher: Indrajit Garai
Date of publication: September 5th, 2022
Genre: General Fiction
Purchase Links: Amazon
Lucy, a young lawyer, is on fast track to partnership in her firm. Arnault, a convicted felon, leaves prison after two decades through a piece of evidence in his favor. The two of them come together during a rescue operation at the centre of Paris, and then they go on with their separate lives.
Months later, their paths cross again at a camp for migrants on the edge of Paris.
The key turned twice in the lock.The Man without Shelter by Indrajit Garai
I almost declined when the author’s assistant contacted me about reviewing this book. I was trying to clean up my backlog of books and keep up with the incoming requests. But, seeing that I had reviewed his previous book (The Bridge of Little Jeremy) and enjoyed it, I decided to give this book a chance. I am glad I did because The Man without Shelter was a great read.
The Man without Shelter had two interesting storylines. The main storyline features Arnault, a Middle Eastern-French man, who is in prison serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. The book starts with Arnault being released from prison. There was DNA evidence found that exonerated him. Arnault is released with little money, very few personal effects, and nowhere to go. The book follows Arnault through the lows and highs of his new life.
The other main storyline features Lucy, a young up-and-coming lawyer in Paris. Lucy accepts a job with an international group of lawyers who work to free unjustly imprisoned people. Lucy gets the case involving Arnault. Lucy needs to find Arnault and serve him papers that would erase his 20 years in prison. But finding Arnault proves tricky, and Lucy is searching homeless shelters, homeless camps, and migrant camps to find him. Will she find Arnault? Will she serve those papers?
The Man without Shelter was a differently-written book. I say different because there was barely any dialogue between the characters. The author took much of the book from Arnault and Lucy’s perspective, and I saw Paris through their eyes. It was a different Paris than what I have usually read about. This Paris, which is away from the touristy areas, has problems with crime and homelessness. But it was almost pure what I saw through Arnault’s eyes. He considered living in a tent with geese as companions as something good. Same with living in the migrant camps. Instead of being described as chaotic and frightening, those scenes were described as people helping each other cope. It was a refreshing way of looking at it. Lucy’s Paris, though, was a little different. Through her eyes, I saw a Paris where people didn’t care enough and were out for themselves. The people that did care were stretched thin. There was almost a hopelessness in her perspective until she met Arnault. Then it started to change, and Lucy changed with it.
I rooted for Arnault the entire book. From the minute the warden gave Arnault the “good news” to the last scene in the book, I was his number one cheerleader. I felt terrible for him only when his girlfriend killed herself. Besides that one chapter, his storyline showed how he overcame everything to succeed.
I wasn’t sure what to think about Lucy when she was introduced. She did come off as somewhat naive (the whole business with her firm and what they were doing). But she did grow on me as her storyline progressed. As I stated above, I liked seeing her eyes open to what was happening around her and her attitude change.
The end of The Man without Shelter was interesting. I loved how the author wrapped up Lucy and Arnault’s storylines. There was justice served in Arnault’s girlfriend’s suicide too.
I would recommend The Man without Shelter to anyone over 16. This is a clean book with no apparent sex. But there is language and moderate violence. There is also a scene where suicide is explained; people disfigured themselves so they could panhandle, and rape is alluded to.