Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Review: Murder in Memoriam

Title: Murder in Memoriam (Meurtres pour memoire) 
Author: Didier Daeninckx
Translator: Liz Heron
Genre: Fiction
Year: 1984
Pages: 154

This novel is set in France, Paris to be exact. In the beginning it is 1961, and there is a huge Algerian protest. During this protest, a man, Roger Thiraud, is killed. We then skip ahead in time, and twenty years later, his son Bernard, is also murdered. Inspector Cadin expects a link and tries to figure out what exactly happened.

This novel is so much more than just a detective, but in order to understand that, one has to be aware of the social and historical context. The novel deals with the Algerian war and protests surrounding it, as well as with deportation of Jews during the Second World War. I think it is important to read up a bit on France's involvement in order to fully get the plot, as it does turn quite complicated towards the ending.

I did enjoy this novel, but that was mostly due to its, sometimes subtle, sometimes explicit, critique on society. The detective side of the story did not interest me so much, although I was curious to know what happened.
The main problem I have with your average detective, I also had with this novel: Inspector Cadin has no idea who killed the men, but once he figures it out, he knows every single detail of the murders, every single thought the killer had, even though he didn't know who it was until minutes before.

Culturally however, as I said before, it's exquisite. It's shocking to figure out what happened during those initial demonstrations - also due to the graphic way in which Daeninckx writes these events - and also to know how the government dealt with it - by silence. They kept quiet what happened and for example gave the public wrong - very low - numbers of deaths.

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