Source: Review copy Publication: Dome Press 19th October 2017
When a minor Paris criminal is found stabbed in the neck on a country lane in Picardie it looks like another case for Inspector Lucas Rocco. But instead he is called off to watch over a Gabonese government minister, hiding out in France following a coup. Meanwhile, Rocco discovers that there is a contract on his head taken out by an Algerian gang leader with a personal grudge against him.
I’m delighted to be on the blogtour for Rocco and the Nightingale. I do enjoy the Inspector Lucas Rocco books. Rocco and the Nightingale is the fifth in the series and can easily be read as a stand-alone. If you’ve not read the series before, I can recommend the books.
Set in 1960’s France, Rocco is a Parisian detective who has been uprooted from his urban crime fighting area in Clichy and sent, as part of a nationwide political initiative to broaden police operations, to the small rural village of Poissons-Les-Marais in Picardie.
There he finds that his superior officer, Police Commissaire Francois Massin, is his former Army Commanding Officer. The two men don’t have much of a relationship, stemming back to their time in the army in Indochina which has led to an atmosphere of mutual distrust.
Though based in Amiens and out of the urban loop, Rocco never quite seems to be able to escape the political machinations of the centre and his job is always being impacted by one political decision or another.
Rocco has settled into his life in the northern France. His neighbours all know him and he is becoming an accepted part of the community. It has not taken him long to realise that this area has its fair share of violence and that the crime rate is higher than he had anticipated.
In Rocco and the Nightingale Rocco has just begun to investigate the death of JoJo Vieria, a minor league criminal from Paris whose body was found in a country lane in the mists and marshlands of Picardie. JoJo, unbeknownst to Rocco had, in fact, been looking for the Inspector, but his life was cut short before he could achieve his aim.
Later that day, he hears from his old friend and ex-boss, Captain Michel Santer that an Algerian gangster has taken out a contract on Lucas’ life. Lakhdar Farek is building up his criminal empire and has vowed revenge on Rocco, whom he blames for the killing of his brother, Samir.
But while Rocco is trying to take in what this means and is pondering whether to tell Massin, he finds Massin waiting for him at the stationhouse together with a stranger, who turns out to be Gerard Monteo from the Interior Ministry. Monteo tasks him with the job of babysitting and bodyguarding Bouanga, a recently deposed Gabonese Government Minister.
This, of course, offers plenty of scope for Magson to weave the threads of these three crimes together as Rocco finds himself on the trail of the notorious killer known as The Nightingale.
There’s action and adventure as the lovely but lone figure of Rocco struggles to deal with the murky internal politics of both the Police force and the Interior Ministry as more deaths and other untoward incidents occur. This series works because Rocco is clearly a good man, intent on ensuring justice while trying to keep people safe, and despite the bureaucracy that he has to fight at every turn.
Rocco is gentle and caring, while underneath there is a core of steel. The depiction of rural French life is balm to the soul and complements the way in which Rocco is adapting to his new environment.
Which makes it all the more difficult, when, at the end of the book, Rocco is offered a choice. Whether or not he will take it will determine the future of this series. Personally, I hope he doesn’t. This is a series that has slowly grown on me and that I have come to appreciate for the quality of the writing and the gentle, relaxing atmosphere it engenders, even through the deaths, the chases and the action.
About Adrian Magson
Adrian Magson is the author of the Harry Tate novels, the Lucas Rocco novels, and the Marc Portman novels. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, and has been short-listed for the CWA Debut Dagger and the East Midlands Book Awards. Adrian writes two regular columns for Writing Magazine and regularly reviews for Shots Magazine.
Visit him online at www.adrianmagson.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @adrianmagson1
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