Blood Monet

Posted on 29th June 2016 by Sally Campbell
Michel Bussi is the author of international runaway hit After The Crash and one of France's bestselling writers. Here he shares the ten things that inspired his new art-themed crime novel, Black Water Lilies

Political analyst and professor of Geography Michel Bussi was catapulted into the literary limelight on the publication of his novel After The Crash.An instant hit both in France and abroad, the novel tells the hugely satisfying tale of a decades-long mystery that ensues after a three-month-old baby is the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Jura Mountains.

In his new novel, Black Water Lilies, art and mystery entwine; in the sleepy French village of Giverny where Claude Monet famously painted The Water Lilies, two terrible murders take place and three women emerge as equally suspicious characters.


1.       Madame Bovary

In some ways, Black Water Lilies is a new way of talking about ‘Bovarysme’, that brand of female melancholy that results from disappointment in love. The challenge I set myself was to blend this literary idea with the plot of a crime novel.

2.        The Sixth Sense

After seeing this film at the cinema, I gave myself the challenge of inventing a story with a twist that was just as original. I spent weeks thinking about it and that’s how Black Water Lilies was born. At the time, I had thought of it purely as an idea for a film. It was several years before I became convinced that the story could work as a book.

3.       Shutter Island

If The Sixth Sense was my visual reference point when I imagined the plot of Black Water Lilies, Shutter Island was my literary reference. I had the crazy idea of writing a rural Shutter Island, with a French touch, a romantic Shutter Island . . .

4.       Aurélien

Aragon’s famous novel is quoted in Black Water Lilies . . . one of Aragon’s verses holds a key to the whole mystery. And in Aurélien, Aragon writes some very beautiful passages about Giverny, Monet, his gardens and his passion for colour.

5.       Sébastien Japrisot

A novelist, author of One Deadly Summer and A Very Long Engagement, his books gave me the desire to write . . .

6.       Midnight in Paris

A lovely surprise! This wonderful Woody Allen film begins on the Japanese bridge, by the water lily pond, that timeless landscape. 

7.       Giverny

Giverny, Monet's Garden in Spring
(c) Oleg Bakhirev

With nearly 600,000 visitors a year, Giverny is a temple to tourism. That is why, for a long time, I was reluctant to set my idea there. But in the end, even if I wasn’t thinking about Giverny when I came up with the plot of Black Water Lilies, this novel is inseparable from the world-famous village.

8.       The Marmottan Monet Museum

This museum contains the largest number of works by Claude Monet. It includes Monet’s personal collection of paintings, and the ones donated by his artist friends. All those paintings really did lie sleeping for decades in Monet’s house in Giverny, virtually forgotten – almost anyone could have entered the house and walked out with a Monet, a Cezanne or a Renoir under their arm!

9.       The Orangerie Museum

A spectacular place in Paris, a stone’s throw from the Louvre, the Champs-Elysées, and the Tuileries Garden, it showcases both Monet’s genius and his madness. The immense Water Lilies, painted at different times of the day, recall the passage of the sun, and were donated by Monet to the state as a monument to peace, following the Armistice.

10.   The Museum of Fine Arts, Rouen

Rouen Cathedral, West Facade, Sunlight
Claude Monet (c) Everett - Art


As far as Impressionism is concerned, this is the most important museum outside Paris. Several chapters of Black Water Lilies take place in the city, and of course it is the site of Rouen Cathedral, which Monet painted thirty times.



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