The almanacks say that Summer ends on 31 August so it was with impeccable timing that Daniela Petracco, director of Europa Editions London office, recently sent me Phillipe Georget’s new Inspector Sebag mystery, Autumn All The Cats Return [French title- Les violents de l'automne].
This is the sequel to Summertime, All the Cats Are Bored which was one of my five favourite reads of 2013.
When an elderly Pied-Noir is found murdered and the letters OAS left scrawled in black paint on the door, Gilles Sebag and Jacques Molina must investigate whether the motive for the crime dates back to the Algerian War.
Pied-Noir, literal translation Black-Foot. A French person born in Algeria before it gained independence.
OAS [Organisation armee secrete] A dissident paramilitary organization that sought to prevent Algeria from gaining independence from French rule during the Algerian War [1954-1962]
Sebag has also promised his 13 year old daughter Severine that he would look into the scooter accident that caused the death of Mathieu one of her friends from school. A small van driven by Pascal Lucas a man who had been drinking, and who claimed he was forced to swerve by a white Renault Clio that ran a stop sign. Sebag does not have much confidence in the head of the Accidents group Lieutenant Esteve Cardona, who dislikes Gilles because he is a Parisian, and a considerably better detective, and they argue about Sebag’s interference.
“Cardona’s as stupid as he is nasty. But what can I say? He’s not even a real Catalan. His father came from Andalusia!”
The tale of a criminal investigation with an intriguing political and historical background, blended in with the story of Gilles marriage to the beautiful Claire, and his love for his children Severine and Leo promise to make this a great read.
The reader is given glimpses of the past in narrative flashbacks to Algiers 1961, with accounts of the murders perpetrated by the OAS. Of course the OAS would claim they were responding to FLN attacks. [FLN- Front de Liberation Nationale founded in 1954 to end French rule of Algeria].
“As a Catalan, how would you feel if you’d had to leave your native country?”
“You can’t make that comparison, it’s completely different!”
“Is it? Why?”
“Algeria wasn’t their country!”
“They were born there, and their parents and grandparents, too, sometimes.” “Maybe, but that doesn’t change anything: it wasn’t their country. It couldn’t last. The crusades didn’t last either. They should have known that.”
Quite a bit to think about in that passage.
How long does a conquest have to last before the conqueror claims the land as their own? What happens when the original people of the land want it back? I am only on page 109 so I may have more to say when I have finished reading this very promising book.