Gilles Sebag is not swashbuckling. In this novel, the veteran police detective lives in Perpignan in the eastern Pyrenees of France, bordering Spain’s Catalonia. Rising over the landscape is the Canigou, a massif on which we first meet Sebag heading down from a day hike. On the slope and in his personal and professional lives, Sebag struggles against the twilight of his career as he sees his peers in the department contentedly sink into complacency. He worries over the future of his marriage as his wife seems distracted and increasingly independent along with the couple’s two children who verge on the increasing freedom of adulthood.
The underlying murder mystery revolves around one missing cabdriver, a dead woman in a wooded area at a resort, an attempted abduction and a kidnapping. The story comes predominantly from Sebag, although occasional chapters come from the captive woman, perhaps to highlight the ways we confine ourselves mentally and physically.
The late-summer Mediterranean landscape and Sebag’s interior journey and doubts tug the story along as much as the crimes. Georget provides great details along with a pace that lets the reader soak up those late-night swims and wine-soaked dinners in the end-of-summer Mediterranean heat. Perpignan and Gilles Sebag remain under the skin much longer than the crime’s resolution.