Hervé Le Corre ‘Traverser la nuit’

Quai du Polar 2022: Books shortlisted for the readers prize, Book read Number 1

Hervé Le Corre: Traverser la nuit (Rivages Noir)

Jourdan lets Desclaux veer off suddenly to the meeting with the minister and the police unions, for now they’ve got our backs up there. They know they can only hold on by force, and that they can count on us as long as we can count on them. And so the orders are clear: hold the street, that’s what they said, tough on the one eyed men, after all they’ll be kings in the kingdom of the blind that they’ll soon be heading back to, deep in their dens, and one handed men will know which paw to wank with.Ok they didn’t exactly use those words, it’s my interpretation. If someone’s killed we can always count on the Internal Affairs to show that he was allergic to the rubber soles he took in the head.***

Jourdan, police commander tries to hold it all together working nights in Bordeaux. Whilst he’s out in a apartment checking out another gruesome crime scene; the husband has shot his wife in the shower, then his children and dragged them to lie together in the living room before dissapearing, his team pull in a drunk sleeping under a tramway stop seat. The drunk who seems not too bright is covered in blood and in the police station grabs a gun and jumps out of a window to his death. The next day they sis over that there is a woman killer, soon to be a serial killer on the streets. All seems to be wrapped up as the blood on the drunks clothes matched the killed woman and Jourdan’s boss tells us the bosses have their backs, illustrated in the opening quote.

But of course it isn’t over, Jourdan is working to stay saine but of course his job is the problem and he doesn’t sleep at night. There is of course a parallel between the worn out hunter, the policeman and the worn out killer:

He spoke to the dog, all the while stroking his head, he asked him what he was doing there, me I’m waiting for dawn to rise, but I need to sleep, of course you, you don’t care, you can’t understand. He told him everything that he wanted from his impossible sleep and a new day dawning so very different from all the others, a really new day, you see, with people I wouldn’t know, who wouldn’t know anything about me and wouldn’t ask me anything.***

Throw in a story of family violence that Jourdan takes too seriously and there you have it: there’s nothing new under the sun but this is a well told story and some of these criminals are pretty messed up.

An easy read, not my winner

First Published in French as “Traverser la nuit” in 2021 by Payot et Rivages.
*** My translation

The quotes as read in French before translation

Jourdan laisse Desclaux dévier soudain sur la rencontre entre le ministre et les syndicats de la maison, pour l’instant ils nous soutiennent là-haut. Ils savent bien qu’ils ne peuvent tenir que par la force, et qu’ils pourront compter sur nous tant qu’on pourra compter sur eux. Et puis les ordres sont clairs: tenir la rue, voilà ce qui a été dit, et tant pis s’il y a un peu de casse, tant pis pour les borgnes, après tout ils seront roi au royaume des aveugles où ils retourneront bientôt, au fond de leur tanière, et les manchots sauront avec quelle paluche ils fauts se branler. Bon ça n’a pas été dit tout à fait en ces termes, c’est moi qui interprète. S’il y un mort on peut toujours compter sur les Boeufs pour démontrer que le mec faisait une allergie au caoutchouc des semelles qu’il aura pris dans la gueule.

Il a parlé au chien tout en caressant sa tête, il lui a demandé ce qu’il faisait là, moi j’attends que le jour se lève, mais il faudrait que je dorme, bien sûr toi tu t’en fous tu peux pas comprendre. Il lui a dit tout ce qu’il attendait de son impossible sommeil et d’un jour qui se lèverait si différent des autres, un jour si différent des autres, un jour vraiment nouveau, tu vois, avec des gens que je ne connaîtrais pas, qui ne sauraient rien de moi et ne me demanderaient rien.

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