Books / Mystery / Romance / Thriller / World Literature

Adventures in Contemporary French Lit: Musso’s Que Serais Je Sans Toi?

Guillaume Musso is one of the bestselling authors in France today. In 2009, when I lived in Paris, he was the number two best-selling author, plastered on countless billboards and sold at every train station. According to one 2011 survey, which ranked authors by how many books they had sold in France since 2008, Musso came in third place, right on the heels of Stephanie Meyer and before Harlan Coben. Eleven million copies of his books have been sold worldwide, but few Americans have heard of the infamous Musso because he has yet to be translated and published in the United States.

que serais jeQue Serais Je Sans Toi, or Where Would I Be Without You, falls in between the cracks of some of the most popular American literary genres. Sixty percent light thriller, forty percent transatlantic romantic comedy, Where Would I Be Without You? is halfway between accessible literary fiction and commercial fiction.

The story begins with a whirlwind summer romance, in which twenty-one-year-old Martin Beaumont falls for the lovely Gabrielle, a college student at Berkeley. When poor timing pulls them apart, Martin holds onto hope, saving up for two tickets to New York. He asks Gabrielle to meet him at the foot of the Empire State Building if she thinks they have a future together, but she never shows.

Thirteen years later, Martin works as a cop in Paris, an officer of the Art Crimes Division. He’s on the trail of a celebrated cat burglar Archibald McLean. Since the man stole his favorite painting, Martin has been in dogged pursuit of the notorious Archibald.  For the first time in years, he has a fresh lead–and he happens to be staring at it. Archibald has just broken into the nearly impenetrable Orsay Museum, and is set to steal an impressionist masterpiece.

Who is the mysterious Archibald McLean? How far will Martin have to go to catch him? And, how is Gabrielle involved? From the rooftops and streets of Paris to the boulevards of sunny San Francisco, Where Would I Be Without You? is a fun, light international thriller.

While the English translation available in the UK seems to have been poorly done, I heartily enjoyed the original French version. The book should be a relatively easy read for anyone with a college-level French literature background.

Quirky, emotional, and filled with adventure, without the dark edge seen in most American crime titles, Musso’s Where Would I Be Without You? is a nice change of pace, and provides an interesting glimpse into how the French view the United States.


~ Michelle


Musso’s website:


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