—I was paid in cash by my employer, The Home Office, who therefore declared no taxes…..its pretty scarey when you think of it, the translators on whom National security depends, the very same that translate the plots hatched by islamists in their cellars and garages, should be clandestine workers with no social security and no pension. Quite frankly there are better ways to ensure incorruptibility.***
Lets get the translation in first, ‘La Daronne’ is French slang for mother, my best equivalent would be the cockney rhyming wersion ‘The finger and thumb’.
Hannelore Cayre whose First book ‘Commis d’office‘ meaning ‘Duty Counsel’ in English was released as a film in 2009, serves us this time an excellent piece of French Noir centering around Patience Portefeux, a hard working ageing police translator/interpreter with an uncertain future ahead of her, as the initial quote tells us these translators really were paid cash in hand, and how she becomes ‘La Daronne’.
—It was the end of July, the sun was burning up the sky; The Parisians were all heading for the beaches, and I was beginning my new career, Philippe my fiancé and copwas just taking up his new position as head of the drug squad of the 2nd unit of the DPJ…
I was really happy for him, but back then I was still just a simple police Translator/Interpreter and hadn’t yet got one point two tons of hash in my cellar.***
Cayre’s inside knowledge of the judicial process in France gives us little details such as prisoners speaking with the outside world using Playstations to avoid being listened in on, or the description of the dealers with two phones, the bizzness and the halal to avoid being eavesdropped on but being unable to keep their calls segregated and being blown within hours.
I read this book in two sittings, and thoughroughly enjoyed if from start to end, I firmly recommend this book if your French is up to it, if not watch out for or plebiscite a translation.
First Published in French as “La Daronne” in 2017 by Métailié
*** My translation