A prizewinning, "riveting" (The New York Times Book Review) psychological suspense novel inspired by a true story about a couple in an insular French village whose lives are upended when a family of outsiders moves in.
“Icy and chilling . . . In sharply drawn sentences, Sedira summons the beauty of a small French village, and the shocking acts of the people inside it.” —Flynn Berry, Edgar Award-winning and bestselling author of Under the Harrow and Northern Spy
“Disturbing and powerful . . . I loved it.” —Leila Slimani, bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny
Anna and Constant Guillot live with their two daughters in the peaceful, remote mountain village of Carmac, largely deaf to the upheavals of the outside world. Everyone in Carmac knows each other, and most of its residents look alike—until Bakary and Sylvia Langlois arrive with their three children.
Wealthy and flashy, the family of five are outsiders in the small town, their impressive chalet and three expensive cars a stark contrast to the modesty of those of their neighbors. Despite their differences, the Langlois and the Guillots form an uneasy, ambiguous friendship. But when both families begin experiencing financial troubles, the underlying class and racial tensions of their relationship come to a breaking point, and the unthinkable happens.
With piercing psychological insight and gripping storytelling, People Like Them asks: How could a seemingly "normal" person commit an atrocious crime? How could that person's loved ones ever come to terms with it afterward? And how well can you really know your own spouse?
Inspired by a 2003 mass homicide in Haute-Savoie, French author Sedira's too-slight English-language debut opens with the trial of Constant Guillot, a white working-class man from Carmac. Constant is charged with murdering his wealthy, sophisticated new neighbors Bakary Langlois, a Gabon-born Black man raised in Paris; Bakary's white wife, Sylvia; and the couple's three mixed-race children, all between the ages of seven and 12. There's no doubt of Constant's guilt, as he confessed in gory detail. The only open question is what incited the atrocity a mystery that narrator Anna, Constant's partner and the mother of his three- and six-year-old daughters, reflects upon while the court case progresses. Though Sedira paints a colorful portrait of life in a provincial French village, she offers only a cursory examination of Constant's possible motives, rendering the tale more character sketch than fully fledged novel. Key events unfold either via flashback or prosecutorial monologue, sapping them of immediacy and impact. Crime fiction fans will be left wanting.