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Murder Mystery Review: The Awkward Squad by Sophie Henaff

The Awkward Squad by Sophie Henaff, Sam Gordon (Awkward Squad / Anne Capestan #1)

egalley thanks to MacLehose Press

Synopsis from Goodreads
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?

Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | Book Depository


* * *
 What a refreshing find! A French police procedural with snappy characters, multilayered narration and certain "je ne sais quoi"... *grins*

 It's got elements of comedy and tragedy, but they are so intermixed that it's a fairly light, cosy mystery type of read.

 The commissaire Anne Capestan fully expects to get fired after a six-month leave due to excessive use of force when she basically shot a criminal who kidnapped two kids point blank. She knows she has rage issues and she also knows she burned out in the unit she was worn at the time as all the kid cases were hitting her too hard. At the same time, the police force is her lifeline and she doesn't know how to live without it.

Imagine her surprise, when she is not fired, but also promoted to lead a newly appointed unit of misfits and undesirables whose sole purpose now is to take on unsolved crimes so the rest of the force could look sparkly clean in comparison.

Determined to make lemonade she starts going through cold cases, waiting for her new unit to slowly trickle in, and her new team suddenly uncovers new evidence and a suspicious connection between some of the old crimes.

Soon, Anne and her partner, whose reputation of a bad luck charm proceeds itself to the point of people refusing to work with the guy, but who is actually a teddy bear constantly talking about his kids, are on one of the cases, while an ex-internal affair officer is paired up with a rich authoress, whose books have just been turned into TV series, and whose satire left the hire ups too constipated. The couple realises to mutual surprise that they work well together and proceed to do just that.

There are other misfits who are slowly incorporated into the teamwork: an old drunkard and a young gambler who stay on surveillance, an ex-hacker whose brain turned to mush due to a head injury, a policeman who is very bad at car chases but who is obsessed with them, another policeman famous for revealing internal corruption to his media sources...

They are all lively, charming and with their own distinctive quirks. The investigation is pretty interesting, and the plot alternates between pieces of the past and present, so while it's confusing in the beginning, all becomes clear later on.

Overall, juicy, intriguing and refreshing read, grave & lighthearted at the same time, and wth a real French flair. Recommended.

* * *
Какая же свеженькая находка! Французский полицейский детектив с острыми занимательными персонажами, многослоевой сюжетной линией и чисто гальским стёбом.

Комиссар Анн Капестан ожидает увольнения с работы после расстрела в упор преступника, который похитил двух детей. Она знает, что не смогла управиться со своей вспышкой ярости, так как перегорела, занимаясь подобными преступлениями. В то же время, полиция - это единственное, что её интересует, и она в растерянности, чем же ей заняться после увольнения.

Так что, когда её неожиданно повышают в ранке и ставят во главе отдела для неблагонадёжных и отверженных, она решает, что щаставит его функционировать во что бы то ни стало.

Её подчинённые появляются в штаб-квартире потихоньку и начинают копаться в холодных делах, которые перевалили теперь на них.

 Анн берёт себе в партнёры полицейского, которого считают несчастливым амулетом и избегают как чумы. На самом деле тот - нежный гигант с очень хорошей интуицией и огромной любовью к своим детям, о которых он постоянно рассказывает.

Бывший сотрудник отдела внутренних дел, оказавшийся в немилости после заявления о дискриминации приобретает в качестве партнёрши знаменитую писательницу, чьи книги перевели в ТВ сериал, сатира которого пришлась не по душе её начальникам, после того, как та вышла обратно на работу. К удивлению обоих срабатываются они прекрасно между безаппеляционной болтовнёй той и сдержанным молчанием её напарника.

Добавьте к этому пьянчужку с незадачливым игроком, хакера, чей мозг - каша после травмы головы, полицейского с амбициями гонщика, но очень плохого водителя, и наконец офицера, который не боится раскрывать коррумпированных чиновников с помощью прессы, и получится неожиданно эффективная команда.

Когда отдел берётся за парочку обещающих холодных дел, неожиданно для себя они находят между ними связь, и уже переходят к расследованию их всерьёз. Читать о нём интересно, и хоть и сюжет перемешан неудобными отрывками прошлого, которые приводят читателя в смущение, книгу не бросайте! В какой-то момент вам всё станет ясно.

Детектив отличный, живой и читается на одном дыхании. Рекомендую!

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