Quai des Polars 2020: Books shortlisted for the readers prize, Number 3
Sites to visit linked to this proud event unfortunately now cancelled.
Emma, Marina-Sofia and the official event site Quai des Polars In order to support this event, hopefully I’ll manage to write articles on all six of the short listed thrillers and propose my winner before the official announce on the 4th of April.
In order to reach the largest readership possible for this attempt, I have created a website to publish my six articles and to propose my winner ****in French*** please go to my French website and don’t hesitate to make it viral
I seem to remember having seen her through her shop window. Blond, a little overweight, immaculate, I can see her in a vintage poster – rose coloured cheeks, smiling with a cup of steaming tea in her hand. When she opens the door after I’ve knocked, I recognise her, but you can forget the vintage poster. The woman sat opposite me in her forties may have her hair pulled back in a bun and the respectable image of a tea sales woman, she has a pale gray complexion and the bags under her eyes are approaching suitcases.***
A change of scenery for this the third book on the shortlist, we find ourselves in Nice just before the start of the long tourist season. Michèle Pediellini’s writting is crisp with a thrillers rhythme and in a few lines draws a picture “blond, a little overweight, immaculate, I can see her in a vintage poster – rose couloured cheeks”, you can get an idea of this from the opening paragraph.
The story is of tolerance, or of a lack of it. The private detective, Diou, in the first strand of the story, is contacted by the woman in the opening paragraph to try to locate her teenaged daughter who has gone missing. A second strand of the story concerns Dio’s friend Dag, a Scandinavian vet. Finally a third strand centres on an immigrant from Eritrea, Yonas, who is found beaten to death in a Nice that seems divided over the influx of immigrants, Nice where a large part of the town can trace their ancestry back to Italy, Nice close to Ventimille on the Italian side of the border which some would like to see turned into another Calais. This strand is traced back to Breil sur Roya, a village on the immigrants path from Italy to France, the historical significance of Breil as a village on the refugee route is put into context by a parallel narrative concerning the second world war.
Diou struggles through intimidations and follows a number of leads, meeting some right wing splinter groups on the way:
The same conspiracy theory except that you’ve officially replaced the Jews by the Muslims……— We’re patriots! Just like Orban and Salvini. They’re the only ones really looking out for their people. We’re letting ourselves get overrun, because that’s what’s happening. They come here like parasites to colonise us, they drain our spirit, our identity…..***
The story reminds me of another border thriller “Grenzfall” by Merle Kröger, set in the east of Germany. A well written book with a story that engaged the reader. In the running I’d say.
First Published in French as “Après les chiens” in 2019 by Editions de l’Aube.
*** My translation
The quotes as read in French before translation
Je pense l’avoir déjà aperçue derrière la vitrine de son salon. Blonde, un peu ronde, impeccable, je l’imagine parfaite pour une réclame ancienne – joues roses, sourire aux lèvres et théière fumante à la main. Quand elle ouvre la porte après avoir toqué, je la reconnais. Mais on oublie la publicité vintage. Si la quadragénaire qui s’assoit en face de moi a le cheveu bien retenu dans un chignon et la mise d’une respectable vendeuse de feuilles séchées légales, son teint est gris et, niveau cernes, on a dépassé le stade des valises pour atteindre celui des malles cabines du Queen Mary.
Même théorie du complot sauf que vous avez remplacé officiellement les juifs par les musulmans… — On est des patriotes ! Comme Orban et Salvini. Il n’y a qu’eux pour se bouger et protéger leur peuple. Nous, on se laisse bouffer, parce que c’est ça qui se passe. Ils arrivent comme des parasites et nous colonisent, ils bouffent notre essence, notre identité…