Max Izambard ‘Marchands de mort subite’

Quai du Polar 2022: Books shortlisted for the readers prize, Book read Number 2

Max Izambard: Marchands de mort subite (Editions Rouergue)

Anne had disappeared in one of the most unstable parts of the planet. During the Christmas Eve meal, she had presented him with a comprehensive view of all of the different forces present in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before concluding that she would have to begin all over again in a year’s time because of the alliances, the territories controlled and the front lines were forever changing.***

Here we have a political thriller set in central Africa, Uganda and its border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The background is the Genocide in Rwanda, and the more or less autonomous regions at the east of the DRC, regions full of gold mines, controlled by warring groups and foreign countries, chief amongst them Uganda. So if you want your thriller to inform you, within the bounds of fiction then this is it:

But what I’ve read is that, you would need to prove, supplying referencing documents, that the gold refined and exported came excusively from certified mines, with no links to armed groups. In other words Gold must not feed conflicts. That’s without doubt the problem holding back Muller, because certified mines in the Congo, you can count on the fingers of one hand.***

Ann, a young French journalist with a conscience has been investigating gold trafficking in the Congo, firstly from Uganda and then she goes missing as she tries to investigate from the eastern Congo. When her father turns up to try to find her the background is, as I mentioned, interesting and the story is well told. At the Embassy, there is the careerist Ambasadress, not wanting to be involved “I’ve heard she is close to the President. Same year at ENA. A real Mafia”. The alcoholic Consul who knows something but drinks to forget, the ex-military security officer “his assured muscular stance with his chest slightly puffed out, perpetualy stood to attention, unconsciously giving away his military training”. Alas all a little too much of a caricature for me. The real interest for me comes from the African side, the journalists and students, the military loyal only to itself and the power struggle within Uganda with the president’s power coming from the smuggled gold which he couldn’t allow to be interrupted and the smugglers he must protect. What role did the French embassy have in protecting the Ugandan President?

I enjoyed the read and would love to see the film.

First Published in French as “Marchands de mort subite” in 2021 by Editions Rouergue.
*** My translation

The quotes as read in French before translation

Anne avait disparu dans l’un des endroits les plus instables de la planète. Lors du réveillon de Noël, elle lui avait dressé un tableau complet des forces en présence dans l’est de la République démocratique du Congo, avant de conclure dans un sourire qu’elle devrait recommencer son explication dans un an étant donné que les alliances, les territoires sous contrôle et les lignes de front changeaient en permanence.

d’après ce que j’ai pu lire, il faut pouvoir prouver, documents à l’appui, que l’or raffiné et exporté provient uniquement de mines certifiées, sans lien avec des groupes armés. En d’autres termes, l’or ne doit pas alimenter de conflits. C’est sans doute là-dessus que bute Müller, car des mines d’or certifiées au Congo, on les compte sur les doigts d’une seule main.

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