Created by Marie-Ève Bourassa
In her first foray into crime fiction, Marie-Eve Bourassa brings it on home with Red Light: Adieuu, Miognonne (2016), scoring an Arthur Ellis for Best French novel and — even better — introducing an intriguing new private eye to Montreal’s ranks.
It’s the 1920s, and former cop, wounded war vet and opium addict EUGÈNE DUCHAMP isn’t doing so well. He’s living with his wife Pei-Shan in a grubby apartment in Chinatown, just hoping the world will go away. That changes when he reluctantly agrees to help a young hooker find her missing baby, whom she claims was abducted.
Those looking for a quaint period piece may be disappointed — sure, we get to meet the swells on the mountain and see the sights of Canada’s (then) largest city, but this is about as quaint as a grimy finger in the eye. As Eugène’s invrestigation continues, we’re plunged into a cesspool of crime, a swamp of bars, taverns and brothels crammed with whores, junkies and bootleggers, and more than a few thugs who wouldn’t mind settling accounts with the ex-cop.
But the best part of the book is Eugène himself who, once commited to the case, turns out to be a brooding, dogged investigator who doesn’t mince words and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.
The author studied theatre and literature, and has long been fascinated with drinks and drinking, which inspired her first book, Élixirs (2014), a short illustrated history of cocktails. Red Light: Adieuu, Miognonne was followed by Red Light: Frères d’infortune (2016), another delicious wallow in the mean streets, as Eugène hunts for a young girl who may have fallen into prostitution, and Red Light: Le sentier des bêtes (2018), wherein Eugène, worried about the danger it poses for his friends and himself, abandons the detective business for good, opting for something safer–smuggling booze into the States with his bootlegger buddy Herb Parker. The author claims this is the third and final volume of the Red Light series, but please say it isn’t so.
Encore, s’il vous plais.
- “On a hâte de lire les prochaines aventures de ce nouveau héros de polar québécois.”
(“We are eager to read the next adventures of this new hero of Quebec noir.”)
— Norbert Spehner (La Presse)
- These books still haven’t been translated into English, for fuck’s sake. I love Canada, but this two solitudes bullshit has to stop.
- Red Light: Adieuu, Miognonne (2016) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Red Light: Frères d’infortune (2016) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Red Light: Le sentier des bêtes (2018) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Murder in a Distinct Society
Montréal and Other Québec Eyes