By Malcolm Petrook
For most Western readers, Dead Man’s Share (2009), La part du mort (2004), will be an intoxicating introduction to the more exotic aspects of Algeria, in its post French colonial period when the nation acquired independence in 1962. It is set in 1988, a few years before the Algerian Civil War broke out in full.
Written by Yasmina Khadra, the pseudonym of Mohammed Moulesshoul (Argelia, 1955), a former high-ranking Algerian army officer, now living with a low profile in France. The novel focuses on Superintendent Brahim Llob, an incorruptible writer detective who is drawn into the amorous affairs of his incompetent subordinate, Lino, who is totally blind to the shortcomings and dangers of his glamorous girlfriend and her links to the Algerian mob.
Indeed, Llob becomes unwittingly involved in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Lino. Llob enlists the help of an attractive historian at work on peeling away the onion skins of cowardice, guilt and revenge killings resulting from the ultimate winners of the war against the “Harkis”, who had been supporters of the French.
Deep into a world of high society, and abusive political power, Llob single-handedly challenges the institutions and legal processes that continually result in releasing hardened criminals to commit more crime in his jurisdiction. Llob frequently puts his own life on the line in his confrontations with bribed government and legal officials.
If you’ve had a romantic view of Algeria, Dead Man’s Share will cure it. But if you have an admiration for intelligent detective work, and the books that emanate from it Dead Man’s Share is for you!
Dead Man’s Share is the prequel and 4th book of the Inspector Llob Series: Morituri; Double Blank and L’Automne des Chimères.
Yasmina Khadra, pseudonym of Mohammed Moulessehoul. Argelia, 1955.
Yasmina Khadra. Dead Man’s Share.An Inspector Llob Mystery. London: The Toby Press. 2009. 341 pages.