The Dark Angel by Dominique Sylvain

The Dark Angel by Dominique Sylvain (2004) Original French title: Passage du désir.

Dominique Sylvain was signing books at Quais du Polar and when I picked Passage du désir and chatted briefly with her, I discovered that she was born in the same area as me and that her book opened on a quote by Romain Gary from Life Before Us. It seemed that Passage du désir and me were meant for each other.

It is actually the first investigation of her series featuring Lola Jost and Ingrid Diesel. This duo is made of a former commissaire (Lola Jost) and an American masseuse (Ingrid Diesel). They are neighbors and when a murder is committed nearby, they start investigating together and giving information to Lola’s ex-colleagues.

Dominique Sylvain wrote a compelling page-turner where two unusual characters join their forces to ensure that the real culprit is discovered and that their friend Maxime Duchamp is not wrongly accused of the murder. The characters are well-drawn, they are damaged enough to be interesting but not too much to be implausible. The author embarks the reader on a ride in Paris, in the life of a Parisian neighborhood, in the night life of the capital and its shady corners. Ingrid has a crush on Maxime and wants to help him; Lola still has to deal with her early retirement from the police force. And her former team misses her. The side stories were good companions to the murder investigation. I couldn’t put it down. It was fun, entertaining as hell and I really enjoyed the time I spent with Lola and Ingrid.

I will read other books by her. They are perfect for travels, not too complicated to read but very gripping and written in a sassy and quirky language. Good style, good plot, promising characters : everything is aligned for an excellent reading time. The French cover of the book is a good representation of the atmosphere while the English covers is a faithful representation of the two main characters. Guess who’s Ingrid and who’s Lola.

Since I’ve read the book, I know where the English title comes from. It’s unfortunate that the French title wasn’t translated literally. It should be Desire Road, not The Dark Angel. The French title relates to the succession of events that will lead to crime but it also refers to desire as a force that moves the characters forward, criminals, victims and investigators. The English title focuses on the murderer. It’s a different approach but I mostly think that The Dark Angel is a darker title that leaves behind all the sass of the characters. It’s more straightforward.

This one is highly recomended to crime fiction lovers. Dominique Sylvain is on my mental list of writers to turn to when I look for something good and entertaining.

  1. March 10, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    Looks like a couple have been translated. Not sure this is for me, though


    • March 10, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      It’s a whole series. She’s got books set in Japan too, as she’s lived there.

      I don’t see why you wouldn’t like it but you know better than me what’s for you or not.


  2. March 10, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Ah, so pleased you enjoyed Dominique! I think the books get a little darker later on in the series, but the two characters are still as sassy and no-nonsense as ever! As you said, a perfect way to unwind -entertainment but with brains and wit!


    • March 10, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      I loved the witty language, the sass of the characters and the Paris that is displayed here. It’s not the Paris with glitter and glamour, it’s the real one.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. March 12, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    I dont understand why publishers sometimes give books totally different titles when translated.


    • March 12, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      Sometimes it makes sense : when the original is a play-on-words or has a double-meaning in the language or it could be confused with something else.
      Here I just think the Anglo-Saxon publisher didn’t want the word “desire” on the cover.


  4. March 15, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    It does sound fun, lightweight but then so is the Donald Westlake that Guy just reviewed and lightweight is sometimes very welcome.

    The Dark Angel sits rather oddly as a title with the English-language cover with the silhouettes. The title is foreboding, the silhouettes promise something fun. It’s a mixed message.


    • March 16, 2018 at 9:52 pm


      You’re right about the English cover: the sihouettes are in contradiction with the title. Especially since none of them is the dark angel mentioned in the book.


  5. March 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    New writer for me, I’ll try this one ‘Régals du Japon et d’ailleurs’


    • March 16, 2018 at 9:53 pm

      She used to live in Japan, so her “Japan series” must be nice as well. She knows the country and the culture.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. May 25, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    I forgot I’d commented on this (or that I’d read the review). I looked at the book for QDP but decided against, though it did make my shortlist (not that I got to post on QDP in the end anyway).

    Having read this again and your review of her other one I’ll take another look. I could use some fun reading at the moment.


    • May 25, 2020 at 8:35 pm

      It’s excellent “fun reading”.
      The author herself confirmed that “Les Infidèles” isn’t available in English, no publisher has bought the rights. Sadly.


  1. May 13, 2018 at 8:27 am
  2. April 5, 2020 at 10:07 pm
  3. April 30, 2023 at 8:59 am

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