O'Brien, Martin - 'Confession'
Young girls are disappearing in Paris and being sold into prostitution. Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot is asked by a Marseilles magistrate, Solange Bonnefoy, to help her out as her niece in Paris has been abducted. As he doesn't have any jurisdiction in Paris, Jacquot goes undercover as a seaman with false papers supplied by Madame Bonnefoy.
As the story develops, Jacquot is lead back to Marseilles where an unexpected murder leads the investigation in a totally new direction, and Jacquot has to remain undercover, sleeping in a seaman's hostel. A young lady, whom he has met during previous cases, meets him also on this case and is able to offer particular helpful insights into possible locations for the missing girl as she has unusual psychic powers.
There is a secondary plot line covering the perpetrators of the kidnapping and their fights and shootings with other gangs in the criminal underworld. Eventually, after many false leads and other adventures the story reaches a satisfactory but rather unusual conclusion.
This is the author's fifth book with the Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot character and my introduction to his work. The book was very exciting but there were a lot of references to characters and details from previous novels that I felt were left only partially explained for new readers like me. The author could have gone into a greater level of detail perhaps in the manner of a writer such as Ed McBain with his '87th Precinct' stories who gives you sufficient, or even the whole, back story of every character. Also there was a rather sickening chapter or more, of grisly gore and sadistic violence of an extreme nature, with nothing left to the imagination, which I felt for a writer of his undoubted talents was strictly unnecessary.But apart from these reservations, it is an unusual police procedural and very evocative of the French way of life which is very enticing - you could almost taste the French red wine and bread on every page - and which makes this English author particularly original. I will certainly look out for more stories by Martin O'Brien in the future.
Terry Halligan, England