Friday, June 29, 2007


Former high ranking Algerian army officer Yasmina Khadra has done a brilliant job in bringing to life the world of police Inspector Brahim Llob. Khadra knows his subject well and takes us into a frightening mixture of terror, fundamentalism and corruption. Llob and his team, the pony tailed Lino and the giant Tuareg Ewegh Seddig use methods that are in fact "fit for purpose" in that desperate location, but would not yet pass muster in our green and pleasant land.
Lino has been unpleasant to everyone. His bitterness has even driven him to grow a ponytail.........In reality he is trying to put the fundamentalists off the scent.
My name is Ewegh Seddig and I've no connection with the Good Samaritan. Tell your badly shaved pals it's their funeral, and I won't be sending any gifts.
The language is at times brilliantly sparse and bluntly descriptive of a country where the differences between the rich and the poor are astronomical. Where corrupt politicians and businessmen think nothing of exploiting the anarchy caused by the fundamentalist terror for their own ends. Where immorality, corruption and greed are almost mandated by the conditions.
We used to fight for the FLN: I out of nationalism, he out of greed. He was a hearthrob of the Algerine Olympus, and he collected favors the way an old whore collects condoms.
"He hangs about over in Riad El-Feth. The address is "Men's Toilets."
Khadra certainly has a way with words.
Ben Ouda, a senior diplomat and connoisseur of pretty young men, is found brutally murdered. Ben Ouda had in his possession a diskette, now missing, containing evidence of a plan "the devil himself could not have foreseen." Then an academic Professor Nasser Abad is murdered, and the workshop of Abad's brother in law Athman Mamar explodes, seriously injuring the old FLN fighter and political fixer. Llob and his team are embroiled in a race against time as witness after witness meets a violent death. Is this just the endemic violence of the fundamentalists, or is there something else, or someone else behind the killings?
The trail is full of danger and excitement, and it will lead Llob from the slums of the fellahin to the gilded world of one of the most powerful men in Algeria.
This is good well written crime fiction in a new [to me ] location, which made me realise that we have not been given enough information over the years about the situation in Algeria. I also realised how long ago it was that I had read Sir Alistair Horne's book on Algeria, The Savage War of Peace, and how little I could remember about that sad war. I certainly will read more from Yasmina Khadra.
"Our country needs neither prophets nor a president. It needs an exorcist."


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