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This atmospheric noir novel retraces the steps that led to a murder off the coast of Brittany, probing the relationship between law and justice.
In a depressed town on France's northern coast, a man named Martial Kermeur has been arrested for the murder of real estate developer Antoine Lazenec after throwing him overboard. Called before a judge, Kermeur goes back to the beginning to explain what brought him to this desperate point: his divorce, his son's acting out, layoffs at his job, and, above all, Lazenec's dazzling project for a seaside resort. The temptation to invest all of your severance pay in a beautiful apartment with a view of the sea is great. But still, it has to be built.
In this subtle, enthralling novel, Tanguy Viel examines not only the psychology of a crime, but also the larger social ills that may offer its justification.
Martial Kremeur, the narrator of this beguiling noir from French author Viel (Beyond Suspicion), isn't surprised when the police arrest him a few hours after heaving Antoine Lazenac out of Lazenac's fishing boat and leaving the man to drown miles off the Brittany coast. What follows is Kremeur's explanation for his crime to the judge presiding over his case. Kremeur, a laid-off shipwright employed as a groundskeeper at a rundown ch teau, gradually reveals how he got conned into investing all his cash in an ocean-view apartment in a building complex that Lazenac, a slick property developer, was promising to construct on the site of the ch teau. After six years, Kremeur realizes that Lazenac has no intention of doing anything. Meanwhile, Kremeur's 17-year-old son is feeling the strain his father is under and acts out. Arresting metaphors enliven the spare prose (when Kremeur signs the papers sealing the real estate deal, "it felt like I'd had the Shroud of Turin authenticated by Christ in person"). Viel should win new American fans with this elegant effort.