Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Desplazarse hacia abajo para ver la versión en castellano

Translated by Amanda Hopkinson and Ros Schwartz. Originally published by Éditions Payot & Rivages as Lorraine Connection 2006. First published in the United Kingdom by Arcadia Books 2008. 190 pages. ISBN: 978-1-905147-61-8.

The dismantling of the iron and steel industry impoverished Lorraine and raised its unemployment rate. With subsidies from the European Development Plan, the Korean chaebol Daewoo set up a cathode-ray tube factory. Daewoo Group became the main job provider in the region but working conditions were dreadful.

One day, a young pregnant worker dies electrocuted and another woman is fired. Workers go on strike and occupy the factory. They demand payment of overdue bonuses. The management team is held hostage. When they finally begin to leave the factory, the workers discover that they are taking away a computer and three boxes full of files. Suddenly a fire breaks out. The next day a worker who claimed to have seen the arsonist is found dead.

Meanwhile, the battle to seize the state-owned giant Thompson is at its highest point. The Matra-Daewoo consortium has won the bid, but rival contender Alcatel believes there has been foul play. Charles Montoya, a former cop is sent to find a coherent explanation for the burning down of the Daewoo factory backed by evidence, fabricated or not. The results of this investigation will have unforeseen consequences.

Lorraine Connection is a fast paced political thriller. This is a work of fiction, but as customary in Manotti, it’s based on some real events. Its 190 pages can be read in one sitting. Perhaps, for my taste, the number of characters is too high but most of them are very credible and pretty well developed. The plot is intelligent and very convincing. A very entertaining read. Highly recommended.

Lorraine Connection has been reviewed by Glenn at International Noir Fiction, Laura Root at Euro Crime, Norman at Crime Scraps, Peter at Detectives Beyond Borders

Read about “Daewoo Group” at the International Directory of Company Histories. 2004. Retrieved August 11, 2011 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2846100029.html

Dominique Manotti teaches nineteenth-century Economic History. Rough Trade, Arcadia Books, 2001, originally published as Sombre Sentier, Seuil, 1995, her first novel, was awarded the top prize for the best thriller of the year by the French Crime Writers Association. Lorraine Connection, Arcadia Books, 2008, has won the 2008 CWA Duncan Lawrie International Dagger Award and was nominated for the 2008 ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards. Other books by Dominique Manotti include: À nos chevaux, Rivages, 1997 (Dead Horsemeat, Arcadia Books, 2006), KOP, Rivages, 1998. Cop (Arcadia Books, not yet released in English), Nos fantastiques années fric, Rivages, 2001 (Affairs of State, Arcadia Books, 2009), Le corps noir, Seuil, 2004, and Bien connu des services de police, Gallimard Série noire, 2010.

Dominique Manotti official webpage (in French)

Conexión Lorena de Dominique Manotti

El desmantelamiento de la industria metalúrgica ha empobrecida la Lorena y ha elevado su tasa de desempleo. Con los subsidios del Plan de Desarrollo Europeo, el “conglomerado” (chaebol) coreano Daewoo montó una fábrica de tubos de rayos catódicos. El gurpo Daewoo se convirtió así en el principal proveedor de empleo en la región, pero las condiciones laborales eran terribles.

Un día, una joven trabajadora embarazada muere electrocutada y otra mujer es despedida. Los trabajadores se declaran en huelga y ocupan la fábrica. Exigen el pago de las primas vencidas. El equipo directivo es mantenido como rehén. Cuando por fin empiezan a salir de la fábrica, los trabajadores descubren que están llevándose un ordenador y tres cajas llenas de archivos. De repente se produce un incendio. Al día siguiente, un trabajador que dijo haber visto al incendiario es encontrado muerto.

Mientras tanto, la batalla para apoderarse de la empresa estatal Thompson está en su punto más alto. El consorcio Daewoo-Matra ha ganado la licitación, pero su principal competidor, Alcatel, cree que ha habido juego sucio. Carlos Montoya, un ex policía es enviado para encontrar una explicación coherente al incendio de la fábrica de Daewoo respaldada por pruebas, fabricadas o no. Los resultados de esta investigación tendrá consecuencias imprevistas.

Conexión Lorena es un thriller político de ritmo vertiginoso. Esta es una obra de ficción, pero como es costumbre en Manotti, está basada en algunos hechos reales. Sus 190 páginas se pueden leer de una sentada. Tal vez, para mi gusto, el número de personajes es demasiado elevado, pero la mayoría de ellos resultan muy reales y están muy bien desarrollados. El argumento es inteligente y resulta muy convincente. Una lectura muy entretenida. Muy recomendable.

Conexión Lorena ha sido reseñada por Paco Camarasa en Qué Leer, Modestino en Cajón de sastre,  

Alba editorial

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass – Lorraine (France)

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass is a community meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. The idea behind is that participants write a post linked to the country of the week. This week’s country is France. You can visit HERE the contribution of other fellow participants.

The Region of Lorraine is located in the northeast of France. It borders the region of Alsace to its east, and Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg to its north. It comprises of four départments called Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Meuse (55), Moselle (57) and Vosges (88). The region’s capital is Metz. Lorraine is one of France’s better kept secrets, an area of immense beauty with a very large range of tourist attractions. You can find additional information at Wikipedia and Lorraine’s official tourism website.

For an introduction to French crime fiction you can read Sue Neale’s article at Crimeculture and a practical guide to French crime fiction (pdf.) at Crime Time. You may also check my previous post Sue Neale: Contemporary French crime fiction – a search for the hidden with particular reference to Sous les vents de Neptune by Fred Vargas

However, as the title suggests, I have chosen for this post a superb novel by Dominique Manotti, Lorraine Connection, awarded with The Duncan Lawrie International Dagger 2008. The judges felt that: ‘Manotti seamlessly integrates a fine crime story with French provincial and national politics within the EU then matches it with an equally convincing grip on the characters of her northern landscape.’ I’ve just finished reading it. My review will be coming next. Stay tuned.

Synopsis: A factory owned by the Korean Daewoo group in Pondage, Lorraine, manufactures cathode ray tubes. Working conditions are abysmal, but as it’s the only source of employment in this bleak former iron and steel manufacturing region, the workers daren’t protest. Until a strike breaks out and there’s a fire at the factory. But is it an accident? Autumn 1996, and the Pondage factory is at the centre of a strategic battle being played out in Paris, Brussels and Asia for the takeover of the ailing state-owned electronics giant Thomson. Contrary to expectations, the Matra-Daewoo alliance wins the bid. Rival contender Alcatel believes there’s foul play involved and brings in the big guns led by its head of security, former deputy head of the national security service. Intrepid private cop Charles Montoya is called to Lorraine to carry out an investigation, and explosive revelations follow – murders, dirty tricks, blackmail, wheeling and dealing.

This is a novel. Everything is true and everything is false

I have just started reading Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti. Winner of the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger Award 2008.

As soon as I open the book I find the following sentence:

Warning

This is a novel. Everything is true and everything is false.

Some food for thought, an article from Le Monde diplomatique, October 1997.

Bitter fruits of modernisation in Lorraine by Pierre Rimbert and Rafael Trapet

“Twenty years after the steel crisis Lorraine is a remarkable case study. Following the disappearance of its traditional industry the region was earmarked for modernisation. It has come down to earth with a shock. Like other parts of Europe it has fallen prey to bounty hunters attracted by relocation subsidies, firms that set up shop for few years and move out again as soon as they are offered better conditions elsewhere, with no regard for the unemployment and suffering they leave in their wake. Lorraine was the scene of one of the French labour movement’s fiercest battles. Despite defeat, its memory lives on. And with fresh closures announced, resistance is building up once more.”

Read the complete article HERE.

In May 2006 Kim Woo Choong, founder of the Daewoo Group, was sentenced to 10 years in jail after being found guilty of charges including embezzlement and accounting fraud. 21 trillion won ($22bn) of his fortune was seized and he was fined an additional 10m won. On 30 December 2007, he was granted amnesty by President Roh Moo-hyun. (South Korean presidents traditionally hand out pardons for the new year.) Taken from Wikipedia.

Lorraine Connection begins in Pondange, a fictional town in the former Lorraine steel basin, where Daewoo built a factory which subsisted with the help of European credits and laundered money through an exchange with a Polish Daewoo factory. The workers go on strike because of their deplorable work conditions, then the factory burns down: one of the strikers is accused. At the same time, in Paris, the Daewoo company, associated with Matra, seals the deal for the privatization of Thomson even though Alcatel was expected to be the winner. Alcatel refuses to accept the decision and decides to contest it, both in Paris, by investigating corruption and collusion at the highest level; and in Pondange, by proving, if need be by inventing evidence, that the owners set fire to their own factory. (South Central Review. Volume 27, Numbers 1 & 2, Spring & Summer 2010. From Politics to the Roman Noir by Anissa Belhadjin).

To be continued….

Affairs of State by Dominique Manotti

The blurb reads:

Dominique Manotti is back on form with a tale of intrigue and corruption. A call-girl whose black book lists her elite international client is found murdered in an underground garage; a plane bound for Iran laden with illegal arms disappears from the skies over Turkey, and the president’s closest advisor Bornard, head of a controversial Elysée security unit, manipulates the system with consummate ease – and illegality. Until the day when rookie investigator Noria Ghozali determines to untangle the threads which bind these events together. In doing so she penetrates the Elysée’s innermost system, confronts the workings of money and corruption within government, and in the process is forced to combat the institutional – and overt – racism which repeatedly stalls her.

I’ve practically read this political thriller in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. An amazing book and a very enjoyable reading. This was the first novel I’ve read by Dominique Manotti, but, hopefully, it won’t be the last one. A very interesting author to follow closely. Some snippets from this book just to open your appetite:

Embargos never prevented arms from being sold, they just make them more expensive, and the profits are higher.’ (page 29).

‘Once and for all, politics has definitively become a network of personal friendships; the politically correct attitude that the left is left-wing and the right is right-wing – that’s pure naivety, and, with age, he is finding it harder and harder to act as if he believes in any of it.’ (page 75).

‘A prostitute and a pimp protected by the police; a suspect who’s in the pay of the Intelligence Service; a murder committed with a weapon that might be a service weapon … don’t you find inspector, that this case is likely to turn into a can of worms?’ (page 100).

Dominique Manotti is a professor of nineteenth-century economic history in Paris. She is the author of a number of novels including Rough Trade (winner of the French Crime Writers’ Association Award), Dead Horsemeat (shortlisted for the 2006 Duncan Lawrie International Dagger Award) and Lorraine Connection (winner of the 2008 CWA Duncan Lawrie International Dagger Award and nominated for the 2008 ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards).

Arcadia Books

FantasticFiction

Dominique Manotti Website (in French)

Affairs of State has been reviewed by Maxine at Petrona, Glenn at Internationals Noir Fiction, Norman at Crime Scraps, and Damian Kelleher. Sixty seconds an interview with Dominique Manotti…

Affairs of State inspired the film ‘Une Affaire d’Etat’ (2009). Directed by Eric Valette. Written by Alexandre Charlot & Franck Magnier. Starring André Dussollier, Rachida Brakni, Thierry Frémont & Christine Boisson. French release date 25 November, 2009. IMDb.

Dominique Manotti

Affairs of State

Original title: Nos fantastiques années fric, 2001.

Translated from the French by Ros Schwartz and Amanda Hopkinson

Arcadia Books, 2009

Number of pages: 206

ISBN: 978-1-906413-49-1.

>Premios Brigada 21 Shortlist

>

To give you a flavour of what was published in Spain last year you can find below the shortlist for this year Premios Brigada 21. Just want to highlight two categories:

Best crime fiction novel published in 2009 in Spanish (Castilian)

No hay que morir dos veces, Francisco González Ledesma, Planeta

Perro vagabundo busca a quien morder, Julián Ibáñez, Alreves

El baile ha terminado, Julián Ibáñez, Roca

Ciudad Santa, Guillermo Orsi, Almuzara

La playa de los ahogados, Domingo Villar, Siruela

I’ve only two in my to-read pile (Domingo Villar and Francisco González Ledesma) and one (Guillermo Orsi) in my wish list.

Best crime novel published in 2009 (translated)

El hombre inquieto, (The Troubled Man), Henning Mankell, Tusquets

Conexión Lorena, (Lorraine Connection), Dominique Manotti, Alba

Nemesis, Jo Nesbo, RBA

El Poder del perro (The Power of the Dog), Don Winslow, Mondadori

Ardores de Agosto (August Heat), Andrea Camilleri, Salamandra

I’ve read three (Camilleri, Mankell, Nesbo) of them and have the other two (Manotti and Winslow) in my to-read pile.

 

Finalistas Premios Brigada 21

Novel.la en català editada en 2009

Mateu al president. Bennassar, Sebastià (Cossetania)

Emulsió de ferro. Jovani, Sebastià (La Magrana)

Mans lliures. Manuel, Jordi de (Edicions 62)

Sang culé. Pijoan, Jordi (Llibres de l’Índex)

La Solitud de Patricia. Quilez, Carles (La Magrana)

Novel.la traduïda al català editada en 2009
La dona de verd. Indridason, Arnaldur (La Magrana)
L’home inquiet. Mankell, Henning (Tusquets)
Mort a Estanbul. Markaris, Petros (Tusquets)
Nèmesi. Nesbo, Jo (Proa)
Un lloc incert. Vargas, Fred (Amsterdam)

Primera Novela en castellano editada en 2009
Tiempo de alacranes. BEF (Pàmies)
La sopa de Dios. Casamayor, Gregorio (El Acantilado)
Benegas. Jurado, Francisco José (Almuzara)
Siete maneras de matar un gato. Néspolo, Matías (Libros del Lince)
Tarde, mal y nunca. Zanon, Carlos (Saymon)

Mejor Novela en castellano editada en 2009
No hay que morir dos veces. González Ledesma, Francisco (Planeta)
Perro vagabundo busca a quien morder. Ibañez, Julián (Alrevés)
El baile ha terminado. Ibáñez, Julián (Roca)
Ciudad Santa. Orsi, Guillermo (Almuzara)
La playa de los ahogados. Villar, Domingo (Siruela)

Mejor novela traducida al castellano editada en 2009
El hombre inquieto. Mankell, Henning (Tusquets)
Conexión Lorena. Manotti, Dominique (Alba)
Némesis. Nesbo, Jo (RBA)
El poder del perro. Winslow, Don (Mondadori)
Ardores de agosto. Camilleri, Andrea (Salamandra)

Premi Florenci Clavé a la mejor portada editada en 2009
Tiempo de alacranes. BEF (Pàmies)
Los espias de Varsovia. Furst, Alan (Seix Barral)
Trago amargo. Haggenbeck, F.G (Roca)
Cuentos completos. Madrid, Juan (Ediciones B)
Los demonios de Berlín. Valle, Ignacio del (Alfaguara)