THE AWKWARD SQUAD by Sophie Henaff.
Published by MacLehouse Press and translated from French to English by Sam Gordon.
Publication Date: 04-03-2018
Suspended from her job as a promising police officer for firing “one bullet too many”, Anne Capestan is expecting the worst when she is summoned to H.Q. to learn her fate. Instead, she is surprised to be told that she is to head up a new police squad, working on solving old cold cases.
Though relived to still have a job, Capestan is not overjoyed by the prospect of her new role. Even less so when she meets her new team: a crowd of misfits, troublemakers and problem cases, none of whom are fit for purpose and yet none of whom can be fired.
But from this inauspicious start, investigating the cold cases throws up a number a number of strange mysteries for Capestan and her team: was the old lady murdered seven years ago really just the victim of a botched robbery? Who was behind the dead sailor discovered in the Seine with three gunshot wounds? And why does there seem to be a curious link with a ferry that was shipwrecked off the Florida coast many years previously?
In this debut novel by Henaff, all the misfits and unwanted police officers are thrown into one squad; The Awkward Squad. And the leader is Anne Capestan who has anger management issues of her own. Their job is to solve all the old Cold Case files. Out of the boxes of robberies, drug dealers, and other unsolved cases, two murder files come to light. After years of being unsolved, how will they find the murderers and give the victims justice?
I haven’t read a crime/thriller for a while, and I’m glad I started with this one. I hate reading crime books where I figure out the killer way before I’m supposed to. Not with this case. Henaff does an excellent job leading the reader through the crimes and the clues. There’s a large cast of characters, but they are introduced slowly throughout the story, so we don’t get confused by who they are. Another pet peeve of mine is an author drowning the reader in a mass of characters within the first few chapters.
Henaff’s characters are well-developed with their own demons to overcome. The story is rich in detail and kept me engaged. My favorite character is Eva Rosiere and her doggy companion. She’s loud, brash, and lonely. She found wealth and fame as a crime writer but also found herself ostracized by her fellow men in blue.
This is the first book in a series, and one I wouldn’t mind following. Especially if each episode is as exciting as this one. I also wonder, how many more of the unwanted officers will show up in the Squad?
Speaking of the Squad, the only part I found unbelievable is the squad itself. In the US, any officers that had committed the crimes these people did would have been fired or retired. They wouldn’t be shuffled around from department to department. Maybe they have a different type of union in France that doesn’t allow that.
I received this ebook as a reviewer for Netgalley, and it does state it is an uncorrected version. I just hope an editor does some work on it as the writing is passive and there are huge blocks of narration that need to be broken down to make the pace and story flow better.
If you’re looking for a new crime writer, I highly recommend this story, and I give it 4 stars..