The Saint-Etienne Walther P38 she was issued on her graduation 20 years earlier from police academy has spent two decades resting at the back of her underwear drawer. (She does not advise where it has been store.)
The absence of the gun has become an issue because of the incident at the end of the last book, Walls of a Mind, where there was a shootout and she could not help as she was unarmed.
Aliette explains her reasoning for not carrying her gun:
“Because I have never ….. I mean to say, I don’t believe in …. I mean to say, a gun has never really fit with …. with my way of doing things. With all due respect, sir.”
The Divisional Commissionaire, Gael Doquès, advises her she must have respect for rules and operational procedure. He presents here with a “brand new flat-black SIG Sauer SP2022” and a detached silencer. She undertakes to wear it while on duty and practise regularly.
Before she leaves he tells her that she has been assigned to see a psychologist, Gabrielle Gravel, to deal with the issues she has with her gun. Aliette needs to get with the program.
A reluctant Aliette attends at the office of PsychoDynamo, where the stylish psy tells the officer she will “help you come to terms with your role as an officer of the law”.
Aliette is surprised, I was startled, when Gabrielle says the primary therapy will involve Aliette playing in a small personal sandbox with any of the hundreds of figures and objects Gabrielle has assembled. If she wants Aliette can wear a mask from Gabrielle’s extensive collection or make her own mask.
After a wary initial interview Aliette returns to work. While her territory is some distance from Béziers she is often at headquarters for meetings.
Within the city there is a developing major investigation. Two street people have been stabbed to death. The killings appear random but bizarre notes in the same hand writing have been found near the bodies.
Within the Judicial Police tension has been rising because of the appointment of Nabi Zidane, a French Chief Inspector of African descent, to lead the elite city squad. The unit is the most prestigious posting in the region. Zidane is resented because of his North African heritage by many within the Judicial Police who felt it should have not gone to anyone from an African background.
When a police officer is the next victim and his gun is taken the investigation becomes intense. The internal divisions with the Judicial Police are exacerbated.
Back at the office of the psy Aliette is carefully exploring her feelings about being a police officer and wearing a gun and why she needs a gun. As with most people she is a private person not anxious to explore her own psyche.
The mystery proceeds with the search for the killer roaming the streets at night and with Aliette continuing therapy with regard to her gun.
Tropéano’s Gun is far from the North American thriller. Violence is there but does not dominate the story. Instead, the book focuses on the dangers within our minds. My next post will delve into the psychological issues. Tropéano’s Gun is a mystery which requires the reader to think rather than just riding the flow of the action. (Oct. 27/15)
****Brooke, John - (2014) - Walls of a Mind and Clashing Women in Authority