Olivier Norek ‘Code 93’

—Four endless grey lanes piercing like a lance through to the heart of the suburb. Gradually the houses becoming flats, the flats becoming tower blocks. Look the other way at the gypsy camps. Caravans as far as the eye can see, one up against another along the RER lines.IMG_1105 Washing left to dry on the railings surrounding this section of the population we can neither like nor hate. Close the window as you pass the waste disposal site and its smells, only a short distance from the housing. This is how the ’93’ and its citizens are treated, going as far as to pile mountains of bins next to their homes. Just an idea, maybe we should propose to do this to the capital city, the other side of the périphérique, just to see how the Parisiens react. Unless of course the poor and the immigrants have a less developed sense of smell.***

Olivier Norek, an ex-police detective takes us here on a trip to surroundings he knows well, the 93 pronounced ‘nine- three’ the poorest of the départements immediately surrounding the city of Paris described with a few strokes of the brush in my opening quote.

The story is an inventive and largely believable story of solidarity in a police team amidst political and police corruption and feelings of entitlement. Crime statistics are being ‘massaged’ by making murder cases of marginal victims disappear. This  practice is forced to the light of day by a sadistic murderer who sets his sights on just such victims but ensures by his staging of the corpses that the cases cannot be hidden.

Why would anyone want to massage the crime figures in a notoriously dangerous département? Who could actually do this and how? What could be the killers motives and how does he choose his victims? Norek provides viable and intriguing answers to all of these questions.

A well written, lively police mystery, the main character, Coste, feels real, well worth a translation and, I believe, a filmed version!

First Published in French as “Code 93” in 2013 by Michel Lafon
*** My translation

Michel Bussi ‘Omaha Crimes’

This is Bussi’s first book (pre dating Black Waterlilies and After the Crash both published in English) originally written 20 years ago and recently republished, his twisted story lines were already in place, the premise the story is built on, a D-day story which leads to a string of events over France and the USA including disappearances, suicide, accidents, greed, deception and murder over a 45 year period, is original.

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On the 6th June 1944, a troop of 178 rangers have the task of landing on the beach then one at a time carrying explosives in open machine gun fire to breach a wall before getting to the bottom of the cliffs, they estimate that the first 30 rangers at least will die in the attempt and decide to draw lots to decide their order of assault. The rich Oscar Arlington who draws the number 4 begs to swap his number for another against a large sum of money which subsequently is never paid (maybe).

an enjoyable read including however, one or two points which the writer would handle differently today such as the relationship between Alice and her private detective.

First published in French as ‘Omaha Crimes’ by PTC (company since dissolved) in 2007.
Republished in French by Les Presses de la Cité as ‘Gravé dans le Sable’ in 2014