Pierre Lemaitre ‘Cadres Noirs’

David Fontana
Note FAO Bertrand Lacoste
Subject: Business game “Hostage Crisis” —Customer: Exxyal

As per our agreement, update on the situation.
For the commando, I’ve engaged two associates I’ve worked with many times before and can vouch for.
To play the parts of the Exxyal customers, I’ve chosen two men, a young Arab and a Belgian actor about fifty years old.41BEE058-A535-40C7-96E5-D234CB571A90
For the arms I’ve gone for
— three Uzi machine guns (weighing less than three kilos, firing up to 950 9mm rounds per minute);
—two Glok 17 Basic pistols (635 grams, same calibre, 31 shot chargers);
—two Smith & Wesson pistols
All of the weapons will of course be loaded with blanks…..
The selected managers, minus their cell phones and personal objects will be kept in an office and interrogated one at a time. the scenario allows the possibility to leave the hostages alone for a few minutes to evaluate their ability to organise themselves, or even to organise their resistance as you’ve requested. The head of the commando will carry out the individual interrogations following the instructions of the examiners.
The evolution of the business game can be followed by cameras”***

Alain Delambre 57 years old has been out of work for 4 years, having halted the work already engaged on his kitchen when he lost his job, he and his wife have been living in a temporary situation and slowly slipping further and further into poverty, looked down on by his son in law and pitied by his daughter. He is at wits end, scraping by with demoralising jobs when one day as he is bent over his foreman kicks him in the ass, he rebels, dropping him a headbutt and walking away from the only money keeping them afloat. Things don’t end there as the company decides to take him to court for GBH to obtain damages and the witnesses, all afraid to lose their jobs, won’t speak up.

Delambre an exhead of Human Resources is then unexpectedly called for an interview for a manager‘s job in a large petrochemical firm. How far is he ready to go to obtain security? How low is he ready to stoop to put all the odds on his side? Further than you or I could imagine.

The opening quote tells us something of the imagined selection process, an inhuman test for sure, but what would happen if Delambre were to find out that the dice were loaded and that he had no chance to get the job, and if he knew of the selection process? Well anything could happen and as the hostages are humiliated, Delambre acts but even as we think we understand what has happened as the selection process reaches it’s climax, Lemaitre holds back a twist.

An excellent thriller by a major French author not yet translated into English.

First published in French as ‘Cadres Noirs’ by Calmann-Levy in 2010.
*** My translation