Quais du Polar: Spotlight on 5 Detective Novels

Published April 1, 2022 9:40 amUpdated April 1, 2022 9:41 am.

“In the Mists of Chaplains” by Olivier Norec: behind closed doors in the Atlantic

Disappeared for six years, Vincent Coast brilliantly returns under the pen of a cop, whom he looks so much like, but frankly not where we expected him. After fifteen years of fighting rampant crime on the Seine Saint-Denis, the captain of SDPJ93 in ” 275 murder investigations – the hero of the trilogy 93, which introduced Norek to the general public – finds himself 4000 kilometers from his base, on the Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon archipelago, paralyzed by the arrival of fog. It is a blind man in an isolated area, a victim of the unbridled nature that the Old Tiger leads his new investigation, more moved than he would like by his latest victim. Anna has been kidnapped for years by the most perverted serial kidnapper and has a complicated relationship with monster“.

Captain of the SP with 18 years of experience, available until June, Norek successfully combines the educational elements at work (the work of the new witness protection service, the description of the sanatorium where the policemen are hiding, broken by work, the relationship between policemen and magistrates) and the trajectory of the characters who became victims or guilty of imprisonment. Like a skilled juggler of words, the novelist multiplies expressions and situations behind closed doors to create an increasingly overwhelming sense of suffocation in the reader as the mist approaches.

Michel Lafont, 432 pages, €20.95. Release April 7

“Son’s Room” by Jorn Lier Horst: A Cop Faced with Power

William Wisting is definitely not a Scandinavian hero like the others. More orthodox than Yo Nesbo’s flamboyant compatriot Harry Hole, less traumatized by his past than Arnaldur Indridason’s Erlendur, happier in his personal life than Henning Mankel’s late Wallander, the most ordinary Larvik cop has never faced an investigation. involving the highest echelons of power. This is now being done as his new investigation, entrusted to him by the Attorney General of Norway at his own discretion, concerns the death of a former minister, a prominent member of the Labor Party. After Bernhard Clausen died of a heart attack, nine boxes of banknotes from the early 1980s were found in his chalet. Where did this dubious kitten come from?

If it is more sensitive than the previous ones because of the identity of the victim, Wisting’s sixth investigation, translated into French, again takes on the codes of the saga: a slow pace, a pleasant alternation of police station scenes and moments of breathing. families, much attention was paid to the psychology of criminals, who are primarily people. In real life, Horst hesitated for a long time whether to become a policeman or a journalist. The place he assigns to Laine, daughter of Wisting, a freelance reporter, allows him to deepen the relationship between the two professions and deal with issues of appropriate manipulation without being Manichean.

Gallimard black series. Translated from Norwegian by Aude Pasquier, 496 pages, 20 euros. Release April 7

“Lucia” by Bernard Mignet: on the other side of the Pyrenees

The sixth most read French author in France (4.8 million copies sold in ten years) is temporarily ditching the recurring hero Servase, on whom he built his incredible success since Glace in 2011, in favor of a tough new character: Lieutenant Lucia Guerreo. Biterrois crosses the other side of the border to show us from the inside the functioning of the Guardia Civil in Madrid, facing a series of murders committed by the elusive ” glue killer While at the old University of Salamanca, an international group of forensic students is trying to establish the story of a serial killer with a particular mode of action: he mysteriously stages his murders like renaissance paintings.

The former customs controller, who entered literature in his fifties, likes to imagine the wildest scenes of crime (such as the crucifixion of teammate Lucia) along with authentic details about the workings of this trade, which he collects in the field from his police. sources. Therefore, a sense of lived experience often arises around a sometimes ridiculous plot. We’ve probably never asked ourselves before, what do female police officers do with their guns when they’re sitting on the toilet?

XO, 480 pages, €22.90

“Poor People’s Square” by Hugh Pagan: a girl disappears

Back to the basics for a French detective’s jeweler named Hugh Pagan. This new adventure of his permanent cop since Death in a Lonely Car (1982), Inspector Schneider, takes us back to 1973, to the grim atmosphere of the end of Pompidou’s reign. Haunted by the Algerian War, the dark caped hero in his early thirties preferred to return to his native land rather than pursue a career.” at 36 ” in Paris.

In the heart of the bunker, he is busy figuring out the crimes that affect France from below in the brigade, whose daily life we ​​have been following for several weeks. The murder of Betty, a 15-year-old girl. fluffy kitten face ”, will become an obsession for this person, who is less strict than it seems. Pagan, who spent 25 years in the police force before moving on to novels and screenplays for television (Police District), describes with black realism and great detail the routines and moods of these interrogators from another era. Like Hervé le Corret, he gives the French thriller an atmospheric touch that fans of Jim Thompson or James Lee Burke can only appreciate. The jury members of the Prix Landerneau du Polar were also sensitive to this, as the book won the 2022 award from booksellers Espaces Culturels E.Leclerc.

Rivages Noir edition, 444 pages, €20.50.

Pit of Souls by Christophe Molmi: after the Bataclan

On November 13, 2015, as head of the BRI (Investigation and Intervention Brigade), Christophe Molmi entered the Bataclan one of the first to oversee the release of the hostages. The current head of the Juvenile Protection Brigade now combines his work as a police officer with the work of a writer, mainly thrillers. With more assertive literary ambitions than previous ones, his fourth book builds on his experience in the field, but moves away from purely police investigation and embraces the genre of the noir novel.


Its overwhelming opening scene, detailing the terrorist attack on the Grand Rex, glues the reader to the back of their chair. The shock of detonations, the rumble of thunder overhead, the ominous clatter of cylinder heads, the lamentations of the dying: nothing spares us the sensations of massacre victims. For the hero Fabrice, who is about to leave his partner, the attack marks a new beginning. The survivor must plead guilty and invent a new life that takes the form of an open investigation into the disappearance of the policewoman he fell in love with. Molmi wanted to investigate PTSD in survivors, whom he had long encountered in his previous roles. The characters are a bit trite at times, but the storytelling is particularly effective and the pace is sustained.

La Martinière, 304 pages, 20 euros.

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