—Four endless grey lanes piercing like a lance through to the heart of the suburb. Gradually the houses becoming flats, the flats becoming tower blocks. Look the other way at the gypsy camps. Caravans as far as the eye can see, one up against another along the RER lines. Washing left to dry on the railings surrounding this section of the population we can neither like nor hate. Close the window as you pass the waste disposal site and its smells, only a short distance from the housing. This is how the ’93’ and its citizens are treated, going as far as to pile mountains of bins next to their homes. Just an idea, maybe we should propose to do this to the capital city, the other side of the périphérique, just to see how the Parisiens react. Unless of course the poor and the immigrants have a less developed sense of smell.***
Olivier Norek, an ex-police detective takes us here on a trip to surroundings he knows well, the 93 pronounced ‘nine- three’ the poorest of the départements immediately surrounding the city of Paris described with a few strokes of the brush in my opening quote.
The story is an inventive and largely believable story of solidarity in a police team amidst political and police corruption and feelings of entitlement. Crime statistics are being ‘massaged’ by making murder cases of marginal victims disappear. This practice is forced to the light of day by a sadistic murderer who sets his sights on just such victims but ensures by his staging of the corpses that the cases cannot be hidden.
Why would anyone want to massage the crime figures in a notoriously dangerous département? Who could actually do this and how? What could be the killers motives and how does he choose his victims? Norek provides viable and intriguing answers to all of these questions.
A well written, lively police mystery, the main character, Coste, feels real, well worth a translation and, I believe, a filmed version!
First Published in French as “Code 93” in 2013 by Michel Lafon
*** My translation
Translated into English by Nick Caistor and published in 2020 by Maclehose Press
6 thoughts on “Olivier Norek ‘The Lost and the Damned ‘”
He attended Quais du Polar at least twice. This is a book I want to read, especially knowing about his experience as a police detective.
Hi Emma, thanks for your comment and I would be happy to have a second opinion on my take on this one
Olivier NOREK is one of the best thriller writers I have ever read. I have read ‘Code 93’ (of which the above description in English I find excellent), ‘Territoires’ & ‘Surtensions’. I am about to read ‘Entre 2 mondes’. When I finished ‘Surtensions’ I actually felt both physically and emotionally drained, I was so taken with the book!! I just wish these books were translated into English as I’d like to recommend them to so many of my friends who are fans of thrillers but don’t read French.
Hi Jane, first of all thanks for looking in on my blog, I guess I’ll give « Territoires » a read in the near future based on your passionate description. As for a translation, there must be someone out there.
Hi Pat, just hope a ‘someone’ will be found – and rapidly. I think Olivier NOREK’s books would go down very well in English-speaking countries! By the way, once you have finished ‘Territoires’, you’ll be itching to read ‘Surtensions’! Bonne lecture! Jane