Forced to buy into an unwanted case for a logical but excruciatingly painful reason, Commissaire Anne Capestan drags her squad of Île-de-France rejects (The Awkward Squad, 2017) along for the ride.
Who should investigate the fatal shooting of retired Commissaire Serge Rufus, of the Brigade Antigang? The obvious candidate is the members of Paris’ Brigade Criminelle. But Capestan’s boss, Directeur Buron, wants her squad of officers, exiled from their original posts because of misbehavior or incompetence, to join—though not lead, he carefully adds—the investigation, because she was until recently married to the victim’s son, comedian-turned–club owner Paul Rufus. Capestan hasn’t even wanted to see Paul. Now she has to comfort him, question him, and protect him from what promises to be a considerable buffeting after his father’s death turns out to be only part of a larger pattern. Provencal furniture manufacturer Jacques Maire has already been murdered in a way that clearly connects his death to Serge’s, and a third murder will confirm the pattern. A ray of hope shines when the squad’s deep data dig links all three homicides to a 25-year-old armed robbery that left two dead at the Minerva Bank in Lyon, especially since convicted robber Max Ramier has just been released from prison after serving his time. But Ramier first humiliates Capestan by eluding the dragnet she’s spread around him and then has the impudence to get murdered himself, leaving the squad back at square one—unless they care to cast a cold eye at Capitaine Orsini, one of their own number whom the evidence uncomfortably implicates in the Minerva Bank job.
Best enjoyed by readers who’ll happily accept a low surprise quotient in return for needle-sharp portraits of professional infighting among France’s finest.