Home > 2010, 2020s, 21st Century, Beach and Public Transports Books, Crime Fiction, French Literature, Guirao Patrice, Leroy Jérôme, Molmy Christophe, Polar > Three crime fiction books from France – three very different rides

Three crime fiction books from France – three very different rides

  • The Wounded Wolves by Christophe Molmy (2015) Original French title: Les Loups blessés.
  • Missing in Pukatapu by Patrice Guirao (2020) Original French title: Les disparus de Pukatapu.
  • Little Rebel by Jérôme Leroy (2018) Original French title: La petite gauloise.

This week I’m taking you through three different parts of France with three different authors. Christophe Molmy takes us to Paris, Patrice Guirao to Tahiti and Jérôme Leroy to a suburban town in Province.

Let’s start with Paris and Les Loups blessés by Christophe Molmy (The Wounded Wolves).

Molmy is the chief of the BRI (Brigade de recherche et d’intervention), the Gang unit of the French police. In other words, he’s specialized in fighting against organized crime. Like Olivier Norek, he’s policeman and a writer.

The commissaire Renan Pessac, chief of the BRI, is exhausted by his work, the relationship with his hierarchy and working on the field. He’s recently divorced and feels rather lonely. He has a close but complex relationship with his informers, a mix between co-dependance and sometimes attraction, as one of them is a prostitute. He’s not in a good place professionally or personally and if someone offered him an out, I had the feeling he’d take it gladly.

On the other side of the law is Matteo Astolfi, a criminal, with a master degree in holdups, living on the run and running a criminal organization. Astolfi is getting older, his partner accepts less and less to live under false identities. They a have a son, he’s six and it’s getting more and more complicated to keep him out of a normal life. Astolfi wants to do a last job and stop his illegal activities. He doesn’t want to go to prison and he wants to start a life in the open somewhere.

Two petty criminals from a Parisian suburb, the brothers Belkiche decide to branch out of hashish trafficking and attack a post office. Their team included Doumé, Astolfi’s little brother. Pessac is on the case and this affair will make Astolifi’s and Pessac’s lives collide.

Les Loups blessés is a good read as we alternate between point of views and see what happens on the three sides of the affair: Pessac, Astolfi and the Belkiche brothers have their say. Pessac felt real, with a physical and mental fatigue weighing heavily on his shoulders. Astolfi sounded human, despite the killings and years of criminal activities.

Recommended to Corylus Books, they might want to translate it into English!

Now let’s go to Tahiti.

Les disparus de Pukatapu by Patrice Guirao (Missing in Pukatapu) is set on a very isolated atoll in Tahiti. The kind of atoll where a boat comes every four months for resupplying. *shudders* You’d better not forget the sugar on the grocery shopping list! Maema an Lilith, journalist and photograph landed in this remote atoll to write an article about the impact of global warming on the locals’s life. There are 26 inhabitants on the atoll and no children.

Things start to go wrong when Lilith discovers a dead hand on the beach, while she’s lying down under a coconut tree. Whose hand is this? Maema and Lilith start investigating and digging into the inhabitants’ secrets.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the ocean, a military basis is doing secret researches and their laboratory is threatened by a submarine volcanic eruption.

The reader follows what happens on the atoll, only to realize that the paradisiac setting does nothing to abate humans’ baser instincts. The passages on the mysterious (and nefarious) military basis felt like jumping from one subject to the other and didn’t mesh well with Maema and Lilith’s work.

I thought that Guirao was trying too hard to pack an investigation and raise awareness about Tahiti and the destruction brought by the French presence there. It was in Tahiti, in the Mururoa atoll that the French government did their nuclear tests, without caring much about the consequences on the local population.

Trouble in Paradise would be a good title for this book, I think, but I wasn’t convinced by the story or the construction of the plot. The sense of place wasn’t good enough for me, which is also what I’m looking for in that kind of book.

Les disparus de Pukatapu is not translated into English and let’s say it’s not translation tragedy.

Now, the next one, Little Rebel is available in English, thanks to Corylus Books. Yay!!

It’s only 141 pages long but what a ride! It draws an actual picture of a part of today’s France. It is set in an industrial town in the West of France, where the extreme right has won the city hall election.

The characters ring true and Leroy shows the implacable puzzle of various pieces that lead to a terrorist attack. What he describes feels horribly accurate and his tone based on a sharp irony and direct talk to the reader is very effective.

I don’t want to go into details about the characters or the plot because it would give too much away.

It is a social crime fiction book and the analysis is accurate. Several important pillars of our society are eaten by pests and they threaten its foundation. Political abandonment of working and middle classes. Racism and fear. School and the disenchantment of teachers. Boredom. Infiltration of suburbs by foreign extremists. Social networks and the endless possibility to spread hatred and fake news.

And things aren’t as straightforward as they seem.

You want to read about a France that doesn’t look like Provence, sun and lovely postcards? Read Little Rebel. You want to understand how the dreadful Marine Le Pen scored that well at the last presidential election? Read Little Rebel.

On top of a breathless ride on this side of France, you’ll help Corylus Book, an independent publisher who wishes to bring new voices to crime fiction in English. And, as you know, our fellow blogger Marina Sofia is part of this adventure.

Little Rebel: Highly recommended.

  1. May 1, 2022 at 10:06 am

    Thank you for your kind words! Little Rebel is quite something, isn’t it? Very funny yet also excoriating about contemporary French society. And will make a note of Molmy…

    Like

    • May 1, 2022 at 9:18 pm

      Thank you for pointing me Litle Rebel. Terrible book because all the details ring so true. I’ve got another one by him, L’ange gardien.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. May 2, 2022 at 11:57 am

    I don’t think I’ve read a book set in Tahiti but sadly it doesn’t sound like Les disparus de Pukatapu is the place to start. Little Rebel sounds excellent though!

    Like

    • May 3, 2022 at 9:09 pm

      I was attracted by the Tahiti setting to, I have to say.
      Little Rebel is excellent. Hey! It’s a novella! Sounds great for this month of May.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. May 3, 2022 at 10:42 am

    We Australians were not very happy about France testing nuclear bombs in that part of France weirdly set in our side of the world (At one time ‘France’ was the answer to the trivial pursuit question, Which is the fourth closest country to Australia?). And then there was the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, and the murder of Fernando Pereira, whose perpetrators walk free in the streets of Paris. Still, thankyou Guirao for trying.

    I like the sound of Little Rebel.

    Like

    • May 3, 2022 at 9:11 pm

      I imagine well that the neighboring countries (so to speak) were not happy about the nuclear bomb tests. I remember the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior but I was too young to understand what it meant. It was a huge scandal.

      I think you’d like Little Rebel.

      Like

  4. July 9, 2022 at 5:47 am

    Merci, le livre de Leroy m’attire

    Like

    • July 9, 2022 at 10:33 am

      C’est un vrai coup de poing, très reaiste et en même temps à contre pied des clichés.

      Like

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