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The Passenger with no face

“You’re not the only one searching for the truth”…

The anonymous letter left on her doorstep is more than a signal: it’s an electric shock. Inspector Grace Campbell knows that she has no other option left this time. She has to open the security door at the bottom of her apartment – and thereby face the secret that has been haunting her for so many years…

The nail-biting suspense takes us from the isolated Scottish countryside to the depths of the Black Forest where the most chilling fairy tale of our childhoods is re-enacted. Grace could never have imagined she would be riding this train that appeared out of nowhere, having to confront the Passenger with no face…

With this new gripping thriller, Nicolas Beuglet plunges us into the most terrible perversions of our society, raising the question along the way: what if, among the powers that run the world, faceless monsters are hiding?

The new Grace Campbell investigation

A train, a passenger with no face & a terrifying society

«Diabolical […] Nicolas Beuglet is the new voice of the French thriller.» Sandrine Bajos, Le Parisien


Author's interview

In The Passenger with No Face we find out what is hidden behind the heavy security door of inspector Grace Campbell’s flat…

Grace has always been petrified by the possibility of being confronted with the secret shut away for years behind her security door. Until an anonymous letter points her to a new lead in the tragedy that marked her earliest years. Who sent it? How much can she trust the mysterious author? Grace launches into an investigation that will plunge her into terrible doubts: are her parents implicated in her childhood tragedy? Was the police failure due to incompetence or connivance? What is the origin of that memory of a terrifying figure dressed in a strange, colourful costume watching her from the corner of her room? All these questions make Grace realise that her personal history is linked to a case that surpasses the imagination and yet which is all too real.

In your new novel, you revisit the Grimm fairytale The Pied Piper of Hamelin, putting it at the heart of Grace Campbell’s investigation. How did that idea come to you?

The story about the Pied Piper was the one that most traumatised me in my childhood. I didn’t really understand why until recently, when I realised that firstly it ends badly and secondly, it is almost the only tale that doesn’t contain any magical or fantastical elements. Cinderella has the fairy, Little Red Riding Hood the wolf who dresses up, Tom Thumb an ogre, Hansel and Gretel a witch… In the story of the Pied Piper, the narrative is dry, factual – and therefore cruelly realistic. That made me want to find out more about its origin and that was when, to my amazement, I found out that the village of Hamelin had medieval records of the sudden disappearance of 130 children… I had to tell that story.

As in your previous novels, you base the story on real events to depict the dark side of humanity. How did you undertake that important research work?

The real event you are referring to is the most revolting paedophile scandal, which I actually had not heard of before accidentally coming across it in my research to flesh out the past of my heroine Grace Campbell. It is the German case of what is called the “Kentler experiment”: over a period of 30 years, the Berlin social services deliberately placed neglected children with paedophiles under the pretext that they would be loved by their adoptive parent. That fact is so crazy that for a while I thought it must be fake. Unfortunately not. There were two university reports about it. As well as reading them attentively, I also contacted one of the authors who said it was still difficult to measure the scale of the scandal because even today the Berlin authorities were blocking access to over a thousand files on the subject.

I wanted to know how his research was proceeding but I didn’t receive a reply. I can understand: it’s a very sensitive subject that could, from what we are beginning to know, have repercussions in high places. What I cannot understand, on the other hand, is that no investigative journalist has ever delved into the story to expose how widespread it was… When it’s so huge. So, to reply more precisely to your question, I worked on this subject in the spirit of a journalist, to reveal that the worst can be committed with the knowledge and even the support of authorities supposed to look after us and our children.

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