Friday, July 3, 2020

Review of The Godmother by Hannelore Cayre (2017, Old Street Publishing)

Patience Portefeux works as an underpaid, off-the-books French-Arabic translator for the police and courts, specialising in phone taps. She grew up in a criminal enterprise, living a low-life in France but experiencing luxury on holidays. When she got married her father decided she didn’t need to inherit and now she’s a widow she’s struggling to cover the nursing home fees for her mother, provide for her daughters, and plan a nest egg for her own future given a lack of employer pension. Then an opportunity presents itself through her work – a huge shipment of drugs disappears en route from Morocco to France and Patience knows roughly where it is hidden. So starts her second life as The Godmother. It’s fairly difficult to find a fresh take in the crime genre, but Cayre has managed to produce a novel, dark, engaging and humorous tale hooked around a colourful lead character and her situation. The plot unfolds at a nice pace, with a good balance between backstory, character development, social observation, and the main plot thread. Beyond Patience, the story is populated with other quirky characters and the spins out along an interesting trajectory. It ended a bit too quickly, with a thin wrap-up, but I still thought it was a wonderful noirish read that I rattled through.

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