Tragic Illusion

Original title: Illusion tragique

Publication Date:

October 2017



Original language and publisher

French | Le Passage

Tragic Illusion

Original title: Illusion tragique

  • 2 Seas Represents: Dutch, Nordic and English (US & Canada) rights.
  • Under option: Italy
  • Winner of 2018 Quais du Polar Readers’ Prize and the Prix Méditerranée Polar 2018


Revenge is a dish best served cold. But it can also be served burning hot. In her last thriller, the French Italian author, Gilda Piersanti, offers the two temperatures and seasons the dish with a diabolical sauce. The reader will only realize its stunning effects when it’s too late. Technically masterful, Tragic Illusion reveals the spells used by the writer without us knowing if we can avoid their impact. — Marianne

A detective novel as cold as the psyche and dreadfully right to the point. It is like a tale in which a few innocent people end up killing the ogre.  — Le Point

This goldsmith’s craftsmanship is devilishly well-built and awfully stimulating. Gilda Piersanti succeeded in creating a plot as elegant as it is dangerous.

It’s a burning hot summer in Rome. 10-year-old Mario is up on his building’s rooftop. His goal isn’t to enjoy some fresh air but to spy on his penthouse neighbor, Mr. Ruper, a single man living a quiet and orderly life. No one ever saw him with anyone; no one ever saw him come back home with company, and yet, every night, Mario watches him combing the hair of a beautiful young woman and washing her in the bathtub.

With his friend Riccardo, they decide to go rescue the princess because there can’t be any other explanation: Mr. Rupert locked her up in his place. She is his prisoner! The hardest thing, however, isn’t to get in Mr. Rupert’s flat but to get out of it once you have trespassed…

In this thriller about the endangered childhood, Gilda Piersanti questions the infinite depth of perversity. To become the target of a pervert is a curse an entire life can’t erase. Tragic Illusion drags us in an unpredictable twisted plot, built like an ever-changing maze until the unthinkable end.

Sometimes, the reality we firmly want to believe in and that we are holding on to can be an illusion. Waking up then will obviously be bloody.

Gilda Piersanti, was born in Italy and has been living in France for many years. Philosopher and translator, she writes detective novels in French. Several of the novels in her detective series The Murderous Seasons, so far nine books, has been translated in Italian (Bompiani, La Nave di Teseo) and adapted for the small screen in France.