Le meilleur polar français 2011: Guerre sale, de Dominique Sylvain

Dirty War, by Dominique Sylvain (Editions Viviane Hamy, 2011) was voted best 2011 French crime fiction (polar) by Lire magazine editor.

Synopsis: Florian Vidal, an specialised lawyer in defence contracts and Franco-African relationships, has been murdered in a dreadful way: burned alive near a swimming pool, a flaming tire around his neck, hands cuffed. Africa is at the heart of the boss, Colombes.  Connoisseurs call this the agony of Father Lebrun. A technique popular in Haiti during the tonton macoutes times. A technique undoubtedly born in Soweto where it was, among other things, the favourite punishment for thieves. Do you know the cry of revolt of the anti-apartheid radicals? “With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country”. One of the favourite phrases of Winnie Mandela. Then, five years ago, Toussaint Kidjo, Lola’s assistant, born of a French father and a Congolese mother, was killed in the same way. It’s murder, unsolved, which had led Lola to anticipate retirement. Vidal had worked for Florian Richard Gratian, the main Franco-African link in the arms industry. Dreadful and cold, Mister Africa, often in the sights of the French courts, had grown fond of Florian who was hired as his driver. Subsequently, he had become a successful and rich lawyer and, over the years, his adopted son. The relationship between the two cases is clear for Lola. She then resumes her investigation that very much interferes with the work of the commander in charge of the case, as it touches very sensitive areas: finance, politics, foreign affairs, Sacha Duguin, a former lover of her friend Ingrid with whom he has a stormy relationship…. Lola has to face the facts, but not alone, the enemy is more powerful than it looks. In this difficult context, what will the role our duo have to play well? (My free translation).

Le meilleur polar étranger 2011: Tijuana Straits, de Kem Nunn

Tijuana Straits, by Kem Nunn was voted best foreign crime fiction (polar) 2011 by Lire magazine editor.

Synopsis: When Fahey, once a great surfer, now a reclusive ex-con, meets Magdalena, she is running from a pack of wild dogs along the ragged wasteland where California and Mexico meet the Pacific Ocean — a spot once known to the men who rode its giant waves as the Tijuana Straits. Magdalena has barely survived an attack on her life and Fahey, against his every instinct, takes her in.

An environmental activist, Magdalena is engaged in the struggle for the rights of the thousands of peasants streaming from Mexico’s impoverished heartland to work in the maquilladoras — the foreign-owned factories that line her country’s border, polluting its air and fouling its rivers. She is passionate about her work, and perhaps has taken too many risks with her own safety.

As Magdalena attempts to reconstruct the events that delivered her, battered and confused, into Fahey’s strange yet oddly seductive world, she examines every lead, never guessing the truth about the man who has marked her for death. Armando Santoya, beset by personal tragedy, an aberration born of the very conditions Magdalena has dedicated her life to fight against, is leading a trio of killers on a drug-fueled mission to end her life — and that of Fahey, her new protector, confidant, and friend — in a final duel on the beaches of the Tijuana Straits.

Read more at Simon & Schuster.