Laurent Guillaume,
White Leopard
(Le French Book, 2015)

The plot in Laurent Guillaume's White Leopard is twisty and interesting, and in addition it gives us a perspective into the politics and justice of "third-world" countries, and exactly why and how much they are often for sale. If the cops are not paid enough to make ends meet, corruption ensues -- and that is probably exactly why they are not paid enough.

I will also mention that this novel is not only noir, it is also very violent indeed. If you do not appreciate graphic descriptions of mayhem and torture, this is likely not for you.

Despite that, though, it could have been more engaging if the characters were well-drawn. However, they did not coalesce as individuals -- they are mostly functions of the plot rather than people in their own right. It doesn't help that mostly everyone involved is unlikable, though that is a standard trope of noir.

The translation -- this was originally written in French -- is adequate, but has some awkward sentences that -- to this English reader -- do not flow quite right.

If one is keen on drug-smuggling, corruption and gory murder, one will likely enjoy this novel. I did not, especially since so much of the action seemed arbitrary rather than intrinsic to the characters.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

6 February 2016

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