An interesting historical crime fiction set in Paris during World War Two, The Unwanted Dead by Chris Lloyd might be for you.
Paris, Friday 14 June 1940. The day the Nazis marched into Paris. It made headlines around the globe.
Paris police detective Eddie Giral – a survivor of the last World War – watches on helplessly as his world changes forever.
But there is something he still has control over. Finding whoever is responsible for the murder of four refugees. The unwanted dead, whom no one wants to claim.
To do so, he must tread carefully between the Occupation and the Resistance, between truth and lies, between the man he is and the man he was. All the while becoming whoever he must be to survive in this new and terrible order descending on his home.
A great ending, where everything clicks into place
I, personally, haven’t read anything else like this around World War Two – I read a lot of both fiction and non-fiction on the topic, but this was different; it placed you in Paris during the annexation, whilst offering a gritty and worthwhile crime fiction plot hand-in-hand with Parisian life and Nazi Germany.
Lloyd hasn’t held back on the topic of PTSD – as the book is set both in the present and the past, we see how fighting during World War One effected him at the time with some awful, traumatic scenes, but also how it is still affecting him 15 years on, through dreams or triggers such as smells or sounds.
I did find it slow at times, but although you’re following the main plot of ‘the unwanted dead’, you also have mini-stories throughout to keep you engaged, including a family relationship which weaves throughout the past and present, politics within the police station and also with the precedents set by German soldiers and life during the war, but not on the front-line.
It is incredibly violent, as you can imagine and Lloyd adds in a lot of action and fights. The chapters do jump around a lot, keeping you on edge, but did leave me confused at times.
It is well written, however I did find it strange how the first 41 chapters were numbered, and then we suddenly changed to titled chapters (with locations relating to the text), with no reasoning.
It’s a good and well executed plot, giving us an insight into what life was like during World War Two, but moving away from Germany itself. You hear about Hitler and concentration camps, and the plot with the murder of the refugees was fantastically weaved into this.
The Unwanted Dead does promise a new series, and I’m interested to see where it goes. I like Giral as a character as he doesn’t take any crap regardless of seniority or politics, and this book only spans the year 1940, so it’ll be great to see him develop further and find out more about his past. I’m looking forward to the possible return of some characters, and hope another book covers the fall of Nazi Germany.
The author’s note is well worth reading once you’ve finished the book itself – it covers what is fictional but then the based-on elements which are fascinating and also makes what you’ve read more harrowing.
It’s a high 3-star read for me. I found it highly interesting, envisioning an occupied country during World War Two with a great plot, but I often found it difficult to imagine things due to a lack of description, and I felt it could’ve been 100 pages less and therefore less slow and repetitive.
Good themes and a great ending, where everything clicks into place!
The Unwanted Dead, Chris Lloyd, RRP £16.99 (hardback); Book Depository
Publisher: Orion Books
Genre: Historical Fiction