Home > 2010, 21st Century, Chakkouche Soufiane, Crime Fiction, Moroccan Literature, Polar > Inspector Dalil in Paris by Soufiane Chakkouche – Moroccan debut crime fiction

Inspector Dalil in Paris by Soufiane Chakkouche – Moroccan debut crime fiction

Inspector Dalil in Paris by Soufiane Chakkouche (2021) Original French title: L’inspecteur Dalil à Paris. Not available in English

Soufiane Chakkouche is a Moroccan author who went to university in France, got a degree in business intelligence and changed of career to become a journalist and a writer. He writes in French.

Inspecteur Dalil à Paris is his debut crime fiction novel, a new genre for Moroccan authors, according to his indie publisher, Jiggal Polar. I’d never heard about him but his book was on display in a bookstore, which proves again that independent bookshops are vital for new authors. (Btw, April 24th was the fortieth anniversary of the Lang Law, the one that imposes a unique price for books and thus helps independent bookstores keep their clients.)

Inspector Dalil is a retired officer of the Moroccan police. The chief of the Bureau Central d’Investigation Judiciaire in Casablanca asks him to come back and work on a case in Paris with the French police.

Bader Farisse has been kidnapped in Paris, in front of the mosque on Myrha street. He’s Moroccan student who is doing a PhD on transhumanism. He was working on a project to implant a chip in people’s brains, that would grant them immediate connection to the internet and augment their brain capacities. Their surfing would be untraceable, which means that terrorists and criminals could be connected and act without leaving any trail . Add the quicker and better brains to the mix and you get a very desirable invention for terrorist organizations but also for secret services.

Since Bader is Moroccan and has been abducted in Paris, the French and Moroccan police collaborate to find him before it’s too late.

In a crime fiction novel, the good plot is essential to keep the reader interested but the salt of this kind of books is in their lead characters and whether the reader has certain fondness for them.

Inspector Dalil is an odd ball. He has an ongoing discussion with his Little Voice, who gives unsolicited advice, makes sarcastic comments and points out what Dalil would prefer to ignore. Dalil has old fashioned but efficient investigating methods. His consensual personality allows him to navigate the political aspects of his job in Morocco but also to deal with Commissaire Maugin, the slightly conceited head of the Quai des Orfèvres, the French police.

Chakkouche has an unusual style for a crime fiction writer. There’s an underlying ironic tone in his prose, as if Dalil never takes things too seriously. Murders? Tiny human affairs compared to the great scheme of things. This slightly amused tone belies the seriousness of the plot and I don’t know whether it comes from a Moroccan storytelling tradition or from the author’s own voice.

I thought Chakkouche used too many question marks, that his style was loaded with weird expressions, odd words and stylistic device. At beginning of the book, he sounded clumsy. At the end of the book, I had gotten used to his personal ways with the French language and I thought he was using French with gusto, like you’d enjoy a great dessert. It’s unorthodox but it’s the charm of Francophony, reading how French is spoken and written in other countries.

Now I’m curious to see if Inspector Dalil will have another adventure in Paris or in Casablanca.

  1. buriedinprint
    April 28, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    How interesting! I guess you’ll have to wait until the author writes a follow-up to see if the stylistic bits you’ve observed stay consistent with that character (or maybe read some other Moroccan writers in French to see if it’s also a regional thing, as you’ve pondered). Last year I spent a tiny bit of time on the page in Marrakech and discovered Tahar Ben Jelloun’s fiction, which was fascinating (here, if you’re curious: http://www.buriedinprint.com/here-and-elsewhere-marrakech/) but that’s a country I’ve read little about and would like to explore more (although in English, as I’m still at a high-school level with my French and prefer to work with an English translation alongside with anything harder than that).


    • May 1, 2021 at 9:31 am

      It’s always interesting to read non-French books written in French. (especially from Québec)
      I read Tahar Ben Jelloun a long time ago. (L’ange aveugle et La nuit sacrée)

      I understand why you prefer to read in English translation, it’s the same for me with English books. If it’s too complicated or too long, I’d rather read them in French. (The only issue is that then, I have no quote for my billets in English…)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. April 28, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    Sounds very intriguing – I hope it makes it into English at some point!


  3. April 29, 2021 at 3:51 am

    Another interesting example of using the French language to convey more than the words? Wonder what a translator would do to get that across if it is translated into English.


    • May 1, 2021 at 9:36 am

      I really enjoy reading books written in French and by non-French writers. (Québec authors are wonderful) and I want to read more African literature.
      I don’t think it would be difficult to translate. It’s just that it sounds a bit different from how a French would write.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. May 1, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    This does sound interesting, like Kaggsy I’ll hope for an English translation. It would be interesting to see if the translator would try and keep those stylistic choices too.

    Liked by 1 person

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