Skip to main content

Dead Man's Share by Yasmina Khadra - Book Review




In the Algerian-authors-who-write-detective-novels league, Yasmina Khadra has to be top man. It pains me to say this I must confess, not because interviews have put the spotlight only on his egocentric traits making him a rather indigestible character, but because of the sheer Russian- roulette-style of his work.  I’ve often wondered, how can a man write so outstandingly well (see his work’s crown-jewel L'Olympe des infortunes, 2010), and in parallel write so shockingly badly (see the abysmal L’Attentat translated in EN by John Cullen as The Attack). These manic up-and-down literary turns leave me baffled, but admittedly, keep me interested.  

This aside, he never fails in the detective fiction genre. His very enjoyable and well-netted Inspector Llob series can't be put down. The central theme of Khadra’s detective stories is corruption within the police force and politics, and he explores how these corrupted worlds both merge, clash, and merge again, thereby putting his finger on the very pulse of how the regime functions in reality. Recently, he added another layer to include corruption in the Algerian media in What are Monkeys waiting for, with a new lead character, a woman-and-lesbian Algerian detective.

In Deadman’s share, Superintendent Brahim Llob is bored out of his mind in a seemingly crimeless Algiers. Boredom makes him irritable and the latest antics of his partner Lino, a handsome and promising young guy from the popular area Bab El Oued, are also beginning to unnerve him, both because Lino is getting out of control, no longer showing up for work, and because he suspects Lino is getting entrapped by his latest catch, a woman whose identity no one even dares to guess.

To try and lift his spirits, Llob pays a visit to Allouche, an old friend and former psychiatrist, once a great intellectual the regime crushed (he was kidnapped and horrendously tortured), and who now resides in a mental hospital. When Llob gets there, Allouche has a favour to ask: a presidential grace is about to let loose a serial killer. He begs Llob to tail the man that state institutions have named SNP because his real identity was never established.

SNP turns out to be more than an explosive case. Long ago, at the dawn of post-independence, the Algerian maquisard The Left-Handed was planning his next move: to take over his village’s land and production - post-independence also meant the country was now up for grabs. In the night of 12 to 13 August 1962, he orders his Henchmen to drive the Talbi family and two others into a forest and has them brutally murdered. Over the years, the Left-Handed’s ferocity propulsed him to the highest spheres of power. He is now one of the most influential generals of the Algerian regime, seen only in Algiers' most select areas, and accompanied by the most beautiful of women. One of these women is none other than Lino's latest catch.

While the Left-Handed is preparing revenge for an affront committed by what he defines as trash from Bab el Oued, little does he know both History and someone else's revenge are about to find him and make him pay for that fatal August night in 1962, during which, unbeknown to anyone present, one Talbi child escaped.

Dead Man's Share was translated from the original French La Part du Mort by Aubrey Botsford, a Llob mystery published in 2004. 



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Moufdi Zakaria - The Algerian Ilyad

I am over the moon to have found a PDF version of the original Algerian Ilyad by the great Algerian war poet Moufdi Zakaria. As it is the original version, it is in Arabic HERE (thanks to archive.org, a fantastic e-resource for old books, you should check it out).  You can access the book in other formats too HERE . The Algerian Iliad - إلياذة الجزائـر  -  l' Iliade algé rienne  is a 1,000 line poem retracing Algeria's history in great historical details.  Throughout, Cheikh Zakaria recounts all the names that have shapped the Algeria's history. He goes through all the regions' history and their greatest most emblematic figures. This poem is so valuable and beautiful.  It should be on the curriculum of any Arabic and history cursus in Algeria.  Perhaps it is and/or you know this poem? Who is Cheikh Moufdi Zakaria? Well, on 5th of July, three days from now, Algeria will celebrate 50 years of independence. A tremendous poem was composed during

"Kan darbe yaadatani, isa gara fuula dura itti yaaddu" (Oromo proverb)

"By remembering the past, the future is remembered". These notes are taken from Mengesha Rikitu's research on "Oromo Folk Tales for a new generation" by (see also his "Oromo Proverbs" and "Oromo Grammar"). Some proverbs are folk tales are worth the detour: 1) Oromo Proverb – Harreen yeroo alaaktu malee, yeroo dhuudhuuftu hin'beektu   "The Donkey doesn't know that it is farting again and again when it is braying." (ie some people concentrating on their own verbosity are unaware of what is going on behind them) You can tell that dhuudhuuftu is the farting can't you, am betting on the sound that word makes. Oromifa is one of the five most widely spoken (Afroasiatic) languages in Africa. Its importance lies in the numbers of its speakers and in its geographical extent. The 'official' numbers point to 30 million Oromo speakers (but there has not been to this day a complete or reliable census). The majority

The ultimate guide to Algerian crime fiction

Crime, together with actions defined as criminal, are very much at the forefront of debates in Algeria at the moment. Over the course of the peaceful nationwide protests that began in February, a worrying number of women and men who have marched bearing the Amazigh flag on Fridays have been arrested. These arrests, reported to have started in June, initially dealt pre-trial detentions with release, eventually, on no charge. Soon however, the number of arrests increased, and releases were replaced with trial dates. For the State, displaying the Amazigh flag is an “attack on national unity”: that is to say, a crime. On Monday November 12, the trial of 42 women and men arrested on this charge began. The results of that day’s deliberations were pronounced in the night, with announcements the following morning leading to a national outcry. Twenty-one of those examined were handed similar sentences: 12 months jail term, with 6 months suspended, in addition to a 30,