Shadows and Sun

Gripping French Thriller
By sevenpin on 31 Oct. 2016
(on amazon.co.uk)

This is the sixth in the Lola Just and Ingrid Diesel series, but the first that I have read. This meant that, for a while, I struggled to piece together the story, particularly the references to events that occurred previously. However, once I got into this intense and complex French thriller, I was hooked. It begins in 1998 with a young and heartbroken Geraldine who has lost her father due to an apparent terrorist attack that claimed the lives of many in Damascus. Geraldine refuses an honour and lambasts the French authorities and their political machinations. In 2013, the retired Lola is working on some puzzles when she is interrupted by a visit from Captain Phillipe Hardy who informs her of the discovery of the murdered body of Arnaud Mars. He was a senior police officer who went off the grid, in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast. Mars had in his possession scandalous and incendiary notebooks that belonged to Richard Gratien, a lawyer and arms dealer who is now in prison. Snippets from the notebooks were made public after which Mars disappeared.

It turns out that the prime suspect for the Mars murder is Commandant Sacha Duguin, an ex-police colleague of Lola’s and previous lover of Ingrid, and he is duly arrested. The gun used to shoot Mars is Sacha’s, but Lola is firmly convinced that he is innocent. As Lola begins to investigate, Ingrid returns from the US. The two of them follow a twisted, dark and murky trail that takes in the major players in the Gratien affair, French and US spooks, until connections emerge to the 1998 Damascus killings. There is a trip to the Ivory Coast that where Lola and Ingrid find that their lives are at risk as they delve into Mars and Duguin’s presence there and search for Mars’s blood brother, Kaspar Koumba. In Hong Kong, Lola and Joseph Berlin obtain vital information that brings them closer to the truth. There are high level political forces that are ruthless and determined that the truth will remain buried, no matter how high the cost.

There is a strong sense of location in the city of Paris. This is a great series that is compelling, gripping and full of action. The characters of Lola and Ingrid are engaging, colourful and make an impression. The plot is intricate and complex and the story has a fast paced narrative. I highly recommend this series, but suggest beginning with the first one.
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