A tortured detective loses his job and his reason for being in Raymond’s stark finale.
Kleber, who reveals few personal details about himself, is “a plain clothes copper,” working Paris “for the Police Judiciare out of police station number 50, Boulevard de Sébastopol.” He adds tersely that he’s “neither a nice man nor a nasty one… simply a detective, and a smooth, swift and efficient one.” Beyond question he’s also deeply embittered. Maybe his 22 years on the street have worn him down and opened the door to the kind of pessimism that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. At any rate, for very little cause, he punches out a chief inspector, an act that inevitably leads to suspension and dismissal. In his small, close-knit community of cops and criminals, word gets out almost at once and knives are sharpened. Kleber busted is Kleber without a support system, and his enemies are quick to rise to the occasion. Everyone knows he loves only two people: his young wife and a boyhood friend. That’s where his vulnerability lies, that’s where the attacks focus and that’s where the nightmare begins.
As always, unremittingly dour. Raymond, who died in London in 1994, saw life through a glass darkly and wrote it that way.