It’s August 1944 and the people of France are celebrating liberation from Nazi occupation – but a nasty hangover remains.
French men and women faced a stark choice in those dark days: to resist or to collaborate. Some, like Chief Inspector Gaston Lafarge, tried to keep a foot in both camps.
Lafarge, as a significant cog in the Vichy regime which worked with its German masters, believed he could still go about his business of investigating ordinary crime while his bosses plotted crimes that would stain the history of the proud country for decades to come – and also plot their downfall.
After committing a series of murders Lafarge attempts to flee the country in search of a new life with his Argentine wife and two children, but his bid ends with the sinking of their ship.
He is rescued and returns alone to Paris where he is permitted to resume his police duties at a time when the Free French leader General de Gaulle is returning from exile in London to take control of the country.
But reluctantly backed by the Americans, who give in to Winston Churchill’s persuasive powers, de Gaulle faces a new enemy from within – a right-wing group of pro-monarchists led by one Colonel Antoine de Cambedessus who long to restore the monarchy in the shape of Henri d’Orleans, the Comte de Paris, and descended from Louis-Philippe King of France from 1830-48.
Incredibly, Lafarge takes de Cambedessus’ wife Berenice as his lover – so their paths are already on a collision course.
The latest in Pirate Irwin’s historical fiction series,The Compromised Detective, re-imagines the immediate post-Occupation days in France, a country whose collaboration with Nazi evil cost it its reputation for decades after they openly connived in rounding up the Jews, even children that the Nazis had not asked them to do, and perpetrating other heinous crimes against their own people.
Though fictional, the novel is based on real events and features real people – intellectuals, politicians, members of the Vichy regime – and examines the complex French situation which exposed the best and the worst of human nature of the citizens in an occupied country.
Pirate Irwin spent 20 years in France where he worked for leading press agency Agence France Presse (AFP), and became fascinated by a country still haunted by its past. His other books in this series are The Twisted Patriot and The Tortured Detective.