Wartime woes and ubiquitous losses haunt newly unemployed Algerian police Inspector Llob.
Veteran cop Brahim Llob, now a superintendent, struggles to cope with the small tragedies war has spawned on the streets of his beloved city, sprinkling his brittle narrative with philosophical asides and observations about the crumbling society around him. He tries cold reality to comfort his friend Arezki, a wizened intellectual and brilliant painter living in squalor, upon the death of Arezki’s brother Idir in the war. Back at Llob’s office, the self-satisfied Director abruptly fires him, sending 35 years up in smoke, for publishing a tell-all book about police procedure called Morituri (a bit of mischief: Morituri, 2003, is the first of three Llob mysteries). Adrift, Llob visits his implacable old friend Da Achour, who’s already heard the news as he’s watched the world from his veranda. His serenity is calming, but another friend, the high-strung and highly social Dine, drags Llob to a festive night out at the Coral Sea, an elegant restaurant. More uneasy nightlife follows, including a visit to the notorious brothel of Mme. Rym. While Llob’s away, someone ransacks his room, prompting a police probe. Bittersweet reflections on his career counterpoint Llob’s exploration of Algiers, culminating in the promise of romance.
Though it lacks mystery, Khadra’s involving and poignant narrative caps the Llob trilogy in ways veterans of the first two installments can best appreciate.