Three decades after it began, an unlikely investigator examines the way the Nazi occupation of France turned neighbor against neighbor and led to murder.
In the early 1970s, Louis Morgon is sacked from the CIA without warning. His wife, Sarah, denounces him and moves out with the children. Louis tries teaching and writing and working in the garden but all diffidently. One day, someone suggests France, and Louis settles into the charming village of Saint Léon-sur-Dême. He buys a house and sets about cleaning and repairing it, becoming an object of friendly curiosity. Curiosity turns to concern when Louis finds in a crawl space a collection of handbills and several small pistols wrapped in a cloth, all of which he brings to town. At that point, the story flashes back to 1940 and the beginning of the German occupation. Rifleman Onesime Josquin catches a wagon to the Hôtel de France, where locals gather to strategize and argue. Superficial cooperation with the occupiers is a given, but even this becomes challenging when the German officer in charge, Col. Büchner, demands that local officials keep order...or else. Particularly contentious is the wrangling of the schoolmaster, Bertrand, and the young policeman, Renard, whom Büchner seems to have taken under his wing. Onesime is riding his bicycle home one evening when he sees a body on the side of the road. It's a German soldier, shot in the back of the head. The murder is covered up and remains unsolved until the involvement, 30 years later, of the astute and persuasive Louis Morgon.
Morgon's fourth appearance (The Terrorist, 2010, etc.) is a subtle and complex thriller/whodunit, written with wit, intelligence and luminous precision.