Lorraine Connection is one of the books that stands out in my reading life: it’s not a typical procedural or PI novel, it’s not a typical conspiracy thriller, but it’s a little of all of those things. The story begins with a horrible industrial accident at a Daewoo factory in the former steelworks region of Lorraine, and the accident as well as the firing of a popular worker lead to a strike and fire in the factory in the first section of the book (The cover of the book gives away that last plot point). The action gradually broadens to include companies vying to buy out the French military electronics company Thomson, and there are more horrifying crimes along the way. It’s a dark book full of political crimes and murder. I don’t read many crime novels that capture racial, class and sexual discrimination so well. Also, Manotti’s background as an economic historian is evident here.
This is not a book about characters as much as it is about a series of coverups and crimes, and though some of the characters seem typical (Montoya the private investigator with a troubled past), Manotti manages to round them out a bit, which is quite a feat because there are quite a few characters in a book under 200 pages. My one quibble with the book is that Manotti is very fond of changing the point of view in the middle of paragraphs, and it’s something that took me a significant portion of the book to get used to.
This book is darker than what I usually read, and it feels a bit strange to say I enjoyed reading a story this bleak, but I did enjoy it. This is an impressive first book of the year for me, and it will be on my list of favorites at the end of the year.
I bought my copy of this book.