Favorite genres are traditional mystery, police procedurals, espionage, Eurocrime, literary fiction and nonfiction history, especially WW2 and Cold War. I write about crime fiction at Read Me Deadly (www.readmedeadly.com)
My favorite mysteries are the ones that expose me to a different world. That’s something I get with the Gilles Sebag series, which began with Summer, All the Cats Are Bored, and now continues with Autumn, All the Cats Return. Sebag is a homicide inspector in Perpignan, in France’s Mediterranean south, just across the Pyrenées from Spain. Perpignan is a center of the Catalan region and the reader has the pleasure of being exposed to both French and Catalan language, food and culture.
In this new book, the reader’s cultural and historical horizons are broadened even further by the book’s main plot, which is the murderous targeting of Perpignan residents who, back in the 1960s, were Pieds-Noirs, French residents of Algeria, during the bloody fight for independence, when the African liberation forces were violently battled by Pied-Noir guerrilla forces called the Organisation de l’Armée Secrète, or OAS.
When an old man is discovered executed in his apartment, with “OAS” painted on his door, Gilles Sebag and the rest of the squad soon figure out that despite the decades that have passed since Algeria gained its independence, someone is targeting old OAS fighters. After all this time, they have tough challenges to identify potential new victims and to figure out who the murderer could be.
At the same time, Sebag is anxious to help his grieving teenage daughter by conducting an unofficial investigation of the death of her school friend, who was on his scooter when he was struck by a delivery van. The cop assigned to the investigation isn’t known for his work ethic, and Gilles wants to make sure his daughter and the dead boy’s family know exactly what happened.
If you haven’t read the first Gilles Sebag, that’s OK. There is not much that happens in the first book you need to know to enjoy the second. There is a running theme from the first book that continues in this book about Sebag’s fear that his beloved wife had an affair, but you don’t really miss anything on that plot element if you haven’t read the first book.
To appreciate this series, I think you need to have a strong interest in reading books set in unfamiliar locales. You must also enjoy a long book with a deliberate pace and an often melancholy tone. The subject line of this review is a Victor Hugo quote that’s used in the book and is a good comment on the book’s own style.