Magson, Adrian - 'Death on the Rive Nord'
DEATH ON THE RIVE NORD continues the adventures of Detective Inspector Lucas Rocco who has been transferred from his comfortable Clichy, Paris base to the rural backwater village of Poissons-Les-Marais, in Picardie, France, and who first appeared in DEATH ON THE MARAIS.
It's a chilly October in 1963 and a large truck in the middle of the night stops just outside town and drops off some Algerian illegal immigrants. However, the truck driver notices that he has one immigrant missing and he checks the inside of his vehicle and discovers the body of the missing one. He knows he will get into trouble if it is discovered in his truck so he quickly throws it over his shoulder and walks down to the River Nord, a tributary of the River Somme and dumps it in.
A few days later, Inspector Lucas Rocco is called to the location of the deceased and after some preliminary tests the medical examiner confirms the deceased was stabbed, that he was a North African who probably recently arrived in France - as he was wearing open toed sandals and France is cold in October. He was also a manual worker judging from his hands. There was a lot of animosity directed towards North African immigrants at that time, so the police have to tread carefully in their investigation. But they try to track down the truck driver who brought the men in and are successful and he confirms after close questioning that he had brought in seven Algerians and he did it on the orders of a brutal Algerian gangster named Samir Farek.
Later, Rocco gets into conversation with a beautiful Algerian lady at a beauty spot, but she drives off when he mentions that he is a policeman. Later he discovers that she is married to Samir Farek but has run away from him with her infant son, as she is frightened of her husband, as he is not the same man she married. He is now a sort of Mafia Godfather figure with a penchant for very violent behaviour towards his enemies, and also to her. She is terrified that her son will grow up to emulate his father and she does not want that to happen.
The story moves on with tremendous pace to the very surprising conclusion. All the ingredients combine to make a tense, clever 196os police whodunnit. Adrian Magson is a very experienced author and has written many books apart from these Inspector Lucas Rocco mysteries, and this is brought to bear in his clever, skilful plotting here. Inspector Lucas Rocco is a thoughtfully produced creation whom I want to hear more of. I really enjoy these French historical noirish-style stories and I hope that we see more stories from this very gifted author in the future.
Terry Halligan, England