Very quickly, the first effects are felt. Completely absorbed, you feel your pulse quicken, you hold your breath while your imagination ignites… You are, not under LSD in full psychedelic hallucination, but reading a Grangé.
Jean-Christophe Grangé seems determined to now camp his thrillers in the past, since the excellence, in 2021, of Promises (The Pocket Book). We are no longer in the Berlin of the 1930s but in Paris, in 1968. And if we had to find a common point between this new thriller and the previous one, it would be the equal talent that the writer deploys to make the ideological bath selected periods.
They were the partisans of the rise of the Führer, the world of dreams and of the night in Les Promises, it is, in Rouge karma, the whole psyche of the youth of 1968. We are indeed on the side of the agitated of the cobblestone, AG buffs, in the company of an omniscient narrator so at ease in his art, so in osmosis with his subject, that he even becomes teasing with his creatures: "Professor Tripeth (already the name) looked like a cartoon. »
The story can then spin at high speed. The protest rumbles from all sides, hyped up by the slogans "it is forbidden to ban", "under the cobblestones, the beach", "enjoy without hindrance", "be realistic ask the impossible" and the media appearance of the young Daniel Cohn-Bendit serves as time marker. The hairy youth wants to experience everything, hash, LSD, sex in all positions, Eastern philosophies, communism. When a first murder comes to pull us out of the intoxication of reading (living) this historic mess.
Hervé panics, inevitably, but, even in 1968, the cops are called in front of such carnage. The cop, despite a family history that promises to be complicated, is his big brother, Jean-Louis Mersch. An iconoclastic police inspector driving a stoned Dauphine who will lead the investigation with Suzanne's two friends, Hervé and Nicole, the beautiful Nicole, a redhead, daddy's girl.
It is then in Calcutta that the trio stops on the heels of the killer of young girls. Grangé, in doing so, reminds us that before writing The Flight of the Storks, in 1994, he had traveled to the four corners of the world, as a reporter, his first job. His new destination, for seventeen novels: to explore the land of evil. It was in Japan in Kaïken (2012), in Africa in Lontano (2015) and Congo Requiem (2016), and for this stopover, in India, at the heart of the evil and depraved face of religious doctrines.
Rouge karma, by Jean-Christophe Grangé, Albin Michel, May 2023, 592 pages, 23.90 euros.