Billed as a police or detective story, this prize-winning French novel is really a slow-burn thriller, a social-realist portrayal of embittered life among hard-scrabble minimal-income locals and semi-settled immigrants, all living within walking distance of the luxurious villas occupied part-time by the holidaying wealthy. Though the locals resent these rich intruders they resent each other more.
A girl falls pregnant, is beaten by her brutal father and, when she refuses to say who made her pregnant, he seeks revenge on the man he (wrongly, of course) assumes to be the perpetrator. Menace, brutality and ignorance swamp the sharper aspirations of the few who seek to better themselves. In an area where physical strength always wins, surely the result must be inevitable?
Winner of the Grand Prix de Littérature policière, 2018.
“With raw, chilling and incisive prose, Brunet takes us into a world of sectarian convictions dominated by the hatred of the rich, the bosses, the foreigners and the ‘different’.” --L’Express
“With its intense rage, corrosive boredom and low-life scams, Brunet’s South of France is saturated with broken dreams. And the last flickers of childhood are terrifying, proving that, even under the strong sun, social barriers remain implacable.”--Paris Match
“A story that is dark and luminous at the same time, dark following the slow unraveling of the crime story affecting Celine, and luminous in Joe’s conviction that she will escape this sinister world. A novel that leaves you heart-stricken and seduced.”--Le Monde
“Dramatic tension is evident from the very beginning of this fierce and dark novel, well served by terse, direct and brilliant prose. The characters are strong, seemingly right beside us, nervous, anxious, overworked, and perspiring under the southern sun.” --Le Temps
“Impresses with its mastery of rhythm and atmospheres, its acute powers of observation and the power of its writing, fierce, physical, and intense.”-Telerama