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Thursday 3 February 2022

‘Turf Wars’ Olivier Norek

Translated from the French by Nick Caistor
Published by Maclehose Press,
11 November, 2021.
ISBN: 0-85705-966-6 (HB)

Paris, and the turf in question is Malceny, Paris’s most lawless suburb. Three murdered drug dealers means a take-over bid – and a new case for Capitaine Victor Coste and his team.

This contemporary French PP fires straight into action with two ruthless murders just in the prologue. Norek is a former police officer, and the writer of the TV series Spiral, and the command structure, the routines, the feelings of the officers on and off the beat, are as authentic as you’d expect – the episode where the police face a full-blown riot was particularly vivid. Coste and his team are fully-realised characters that you want to spend time with: intelligent, tricky Coste; Sam, the team geek, and his sparring partner, Ronan, the rookie; Johanna, a dedicated officer with two kids and a worried husband at home. The banter between them added laughs to an otherwise bleak tale of urban deprivation and ambition. Also in this novel is “The Queen” – ambitious madame mayor Andrea Vesperini, an ice-cold politician who doesn’t care who she hurts – until the danger threatens her own daughter.

The setting’s convincing, the story’s cleverly twisty and at times violent – a warning for animal lovers, there’s a scene with a graphic description of a cat being put in a microwave on p 58-59 which I wish I could un-read.

A fast-moving, clever Parisian PP with a real feel of cop duty in a deprived urban estate. If you like reading a series in order, the first Capitaine Coste novel was The Lost and the Damned, also highly recommended.

Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Olivier Norek served as a humanitarian aid worker in the former Yugoslavia, before embarking on a eighteen-year career in the French police, rising to the rank of capitaine in the Seine-Saint-Denis Police Judiciare. He has written six crime novels, which have sold a million copies in France and won a dozen literary prizes.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

 Click on the title to read a review of her recent book
The Shetland Sea Murders

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