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review 2019-10-17 19:37
"The Awkard Squad" by Sophie Hénaff
The Awkward Squad - Sophie Hénaff,Sam Gordon

 

 

 

An entertaining, original, humorous, well-plotted story of a new squad of outcasts in the Paris Police coming together to solve two murders.

 

"The Awkward Squad" is the English translation of "Poulet Grillés", (literally 'grilled chickens' - although poulet is also used a term for prostitutes) which has a slightly more pejorative feel to it than the English title suggests. The Awkward Squad sounds defiant in a bloody-minded other-ranks-insolence kind of way whereas Poultries Grille suggests people who have burned their careers.

 

The book has a premise that I think is a peculiarly French mix of the logical, the absurd and unacknowledgeable but well-understood reality. The Paris police have set up a new Squad, led by a previously promising but now disgraced Commisar, into which they've dumped forty or so failed but unsackable police officers and a collection of unsolved cases. There's no expectation that the squad members will turn up never mind solve a case. The declared purpose of the Squad is to make the stats of the other Squads better by concentrating all the failure in one place.

 

This is a great set up or dry humour, eccentric characters and a bit of suspense. To my surprise, it also turned out to include complex investigations into a couple of murders.

What makes "The Awkward Squad" different from Anglo versions of the same kind of story of outcasts working cold cases is the stoicism of the officers who have been branded as not wanted. They don't throw angry tantrums. They accept where they are and hope that things might get better. They discover that by learning to trust and support each other, they can win back their self-respect.

 

Their leader, Comisionaire Anne Capestan, a woman whose anger and loss of control has cost her her marriage and her career, declines despair, opting instead for cautious optimism and patience. She doesn't use her authority in traditional ways, nor does she allow her boundaries to be set by her bosses. Instead, she prods and encourages and cajoles the misfits into taking on challenging cases, even though they have no resources and almost no authority.

 

The members of the Squad are well-drawn individuals rather than stereotypes. They each have problems but they also have something to offer. The English phrase for them is probably a motley crew

 

I'd expected the investigations to be little more than a vehicle for humour and character development but Sophie Hénaff delivers a well-paced, complex investigation that goes to some unexpected places and changes the overall perception of what the Squad is for.

 

"The Awkward Squad" was a book that I read with a smile on my face, not so much because it was funny, although it often was, but because this book manages to be hopeful without getting mushy or sentimental. It was a book I enjoyed reading and looked forward to getting back to. For me, that's quite rare.

 

Sophie Hénaff is a French journalist who writes humorous columns Cosmopolitan. "The Awkward Squad" was her first novel. It won the 2015 Polar Series Prize, the Arsène-Lupin Prize and the 2016 prix des Lecteurs du Livre de poche (Paperback Readers Award). The series currently stands at three books, the first two of which have been translated into English. I already have the next one, "Stick Together" in my TBR pile.

 

 

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text 2019-10-12 18:33
Reading progress update: I've read 31%.
The Awkward Squad - Sophie Hénaff,Sam Gordon

 

I'm really enjoying this.

 

It's not quite what I expected. It's not written as a satire, although it is occasionally funny.

 

What makes it different from Anglo versions of the same kind of story is the stoicism of the officers who have been branded as not wanted. They don't throw angry tantrums. They accept where they are and hope that things might get better.

 

The Commisaire in overall charge doesn't use her authority in traditional ways, nor does she allow her boundaries to the set by her bosses. 

 

The members of the squad are interesting rather than stereotypical and it looks as though three cases will be investigated in parallel. 

 

This would make marvelous TV. 

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review 2019-10-11 14:38
Ribbons of Scarlet
Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution - Eliza Knight,Kate Quinn,Stephanie Dray,Sophie Perinot,Heather Webb,Laura Kamoie
The French Revolution was a time of immense change, violence and uncertainty for everyone in the country.  The women of France eagerly became caught up in the Revolution hoping for change, for rights and for freedom.  Many of these women died for their part in the revolution and their beliefs that women should have the same rights as men.  Through the eyes of six amazing authors, six equally stunning and brave women of the French Revolution come alive: Sophie de Grouchy, Louise Audu, Elisabeth Philippine Marie Helene de France, Manon Roland, Charlotte Corday and Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe.
 
Through their tragedies and triumphs, these women weaved in and out of one another's lives.  While each section of the book is written through just one woman's eyes, the others are present.  Each woman's perspective moved farther in time through the Revolution.  I love that the focus was not on the intense politics of the Revolution or what the men were fighting for, but the beliefs of each woman and how she set about to accomplish her task. Sophie de Grouchy used her political fervor to educate and empower other women under the guise of entertainment.  Louise Audu, a feisty fruit seller and student of Sophie bands with other women to storm the Bastille. Elisabeth of France takes a stance to protect her family and realize just what her family is being killed for.  Manon Roland takes up the pen as her weapon using the endurance and graciousness as women for strength. Charlotte Corday is convinced that murdering a man that slings slander and incites violence and hatred is a step towards peace.  Emile de Sainte-Amaranthe uses her beauty to keep those who control France's fate under her influence.  Each woman's emotions, desires, convictions and bravery are placed in the forefront of the writing. While their beliefs may not have always aligned, the women's power of conviction shone through.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
 
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text 2019-10-11 00:00
Reading progress update: I've read 8%.
The Awkward Squad - Sophie Hénaff,Sam Gordon

 

"The Awkward Squad" is the English translation of *Poulet Grillés", which has a slightly more pejorative feel to it than "The Awkward Squad". It won a couple of prizes when it was released in 2015 and the series of books that followed have been popular.

 

I'm intrigued by the peculiarly French premise of the book: dumping all the failed but unsackable people and all the unsolved cases into one squad so the other squads' stats will look better. There's no expectation that the squad members will turn up never mind solve a case. It's the perfect set up for dry humour, crazy characters and a bit of suspense.

 

I think this is a good fit for International Woman Of Mystery and I'm hoping it will give me a smile or two.

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review 2019-09-05 22:54
Truly Yours: Mason & Sophie, #2 (Roommate Duet #4) by: Kennedy Fox
Truly Yours: Mason & Sophie, #2 (Roommate Duet #4) - Kennedy Fox

 

 

Love has a way of sneaking up on a heart, despite the fact that it's been there all along. Mason and Sophie have a connection most people only dream of. Will that be enough to survive the heartache standing in their way? Truly Yours proves there's more to Kennedy Fox than tempting romance. Sophie and Mason are a testament to love at it's hardest, life at it's most volatile and hope at it's most inspiring.

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