There's an evoking area of European crime fiction known as Mediteranean Noir that may challenge the Nordic hold on mystery readers. Its origin can be traced to a revitalization of French mysteries in the aftermath of the May 1968 uprisings. Following those politically unsettling events in Paris and lsewhere, French crime writers, such as ean-Patrick Manchette in THE PRONE GUNMAN (City Lights, 2002), added olitical and social criticism into their stories. But the real change came in the 1990s. Led by Jean-Claude Izzo, the author of the "Mediterranean Trilogy," problems of racial tension, neo-fascism, economic inequalities, politica! corruption and transnational crime became an integral part of crime novels. Their heroes were often anti-heroes, winning only short-term victories, if any at all.
Tue second volume in the series, AUTUMN, ALL THE CATS RETURN (Europa, $18, 2014), combines history, politics and murder. Specifically, it deals with a legacy from the Algerian war (1954-1962) that resulted in Algeri- an independence, the exodus of 800,000 French Algerians to France and the eventual politica! collapse of the Fourth Republic. Inspectors Gilles Sebag and Jacques Molina are called to a murder scene and find a pied noir (an exile from colonia! North Africa), Bernard Martinez, with his hands cuffed behind his back. He was executed by a shot to the head and the letters O.A.S. ("Organization of the Secret Army") were painted on the back of a door. Then an O.A.S. memorial is defaced. A second man is found, shot in his car with O.A.S. sprayed in its interior. Eventually, Sebag learns that they were part of an O.A.S. paramilitary cell in the Algerian war. Its sole survivor is living in Spain. He finds Georges Lloret and a hostile reception. Sebag realizes that Lloret knows the killer's identity and is preparing for their meeting. As AUTUMN, ALL THE CATS RETURN shows, the legacy of the Algerian war and its memories are not forgotten in contemporary France. Time doesn't heal all wounds.