Murder in Memoriam

Murder in Memoriam

Translated by Liz Heron

Part of Melville International Crime

Winner of the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere.

On the evening of October 17, 1961 twenty-thousand Algerians marched in Paris in defiance of and in protest against a curfew imposed by Maurice Papon, chief of the Paris Metropolitan Police. The protesters were met with ferocious and uninhibited violence. Eleven-thousand were arrested; more than one thousand injured; as many as three hundred were killed, many of them thrown into the Seine, from which their bodies were later recovered.

In recreating the scene of the atrocities in Murder in Memoriam, his controversial alarum first published in 1984, Didier Daeninckx introduces a fictional observer of the riot, Roger Thiraud, a middle-aged history teacher in a public school, only steps from his home and his waiting, pregnant wife. In the first few minutes of the demonstration, he will be assassinated, in cold blood, by a member of the anti-terrorist secret police.

For nearly forty years after October 1961, France would deny the killings. Upon the independence of Algeria in 1962 an amnesty put its perpetrators safely beyond prosecution. The records were buried.

In 1981, Bernard Thiraud, Roger’s son, is researching the archives in Toulouse, intent on completing his father’s history of his birthplace, Drancy, now notorious as the site of a detention and transit camp from which Jews were deported to Auschwitz. One afternoon, after leaving the town hall, he too is murdered — the victim of what appears to investigating officers to be a professional killing.

When inspector Cadin of the Toulouse prefecture learns of the unsolved murder of the young man’s father, he suspects a connection. But why would anybody want to kill two bourgeois, politically unconnected history teachers?

DIDIER DAENINCKX is a prominent French polemicist, journalist, essayist, and author of more than forty books including the novel, A Very Profitable War, also forthcoming from Melville House.

“How many detective stories have helped a country confront its past? Murder in Memoriam has certainly done that.” — The Guardian

Murder in Memoriam is the kind of book that begins to restore one’s confidence in the detective story. Not only has Daeninckx produced a particularly intriguing narrative, but he has found a way to give this narrative a satisfying significance … A touch of moral vision and a pinch of righteous anger work wonders.” – Nick Hornby

“Didier Daeninckx is a novelist, magician and archaeologist prince … a frightening book” – Jerome Charyn

“A crime fiction landmark … ” – Reviewing the Evidence

Close
MobyLives