Review: The Lost and the Damned by Olivier Norek

Title: The Lost and The Damned {Banlieues Trilogy #1}

Author: Olivier Norek (Translated by Nick Caistor)

Published: 12th November 2020, MacLehose Press

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy Quercus/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

First published in his native France as Code 93 in 2013, The Lost and the Damned by Olivier Norek is the first book of the Banlieues Trilogy to be translated into English (by Nick Caistor). Introducing homicide police Capitaine Victor Coste, Norek draws on his twenty five years of experience as a lieutenant in the investigations department in one of the toughest precincts in Paris in this gritty police procedural.

During the early hours of the morning in a derelict warehouse on the banks of the Canal de L’Ourcq, the body of a large black man is found. To Capitaine Victor Coste it appears he has been shot three times in the chest, but not before he was tortured and his testicles were crudely removed. The body is transferred to the forensic morgue, but as Dr Lea Marquant makes her first cuts, the man lurches from her autopsy table. Quickly identified as a local drug dealer, Bébé Coulibaly, the bloody, bullet pierced sweater he was wearing indicates that there is likely another victim to be found, and tests suggest it’s Franck Samoy, a drug addict. Tracing his mobile phone leads Coste and his team, Ronan, Sam and rookie Johanna, to a vacant villa where they find the badly burned body of Samoy on a folding plastic chair. It’s clear the two unusual cases are linked, and Coste suspects they may have something to do with the anonymous notes he has received directing him to the files of two murdered woman. As Coste investigates the possibilities, a troubling connection to his recently departed lieutenant and an irregularity in police records develops, and he finds himself caught in a web of conspiracy, corruption, and murder.

The Lost and the Damned is a well plotted crime novel that leads the reader through the seedy outskirts of Paris and into the enclaves of the wealthy and powerful, exposing the devious machinations of authority that has triggered the rage of a serial killer. Though it’s a little dark and brutal, with a touch of cynicism, it’s offset by sly humour, and Coste’s earnest search for answers. Though I’m not familiar with the procedures of the French gendarme, the actions of Coste and his team during the investigation seem authentic, as does the motivation and behaviour of the killer.

Coste is an interesting character, principled but not uncompromising, he is a dedicated detective who believes in the integrity of policing. He has a somewhat tortured back story, and as such lives alone, though Dr Lea Marquant piques his interest. Coste’s colleagues generally admire him, and his team are as determined to have his back, as he is to protect theirs. Norek provides a basic sketch of the Groupe 1 members, enough to make sense of their role, though perhaps not quite enough yet to determine who they are.

Nick Caistor deserves praise for his translation which never feels stilted or clumsy, it’s always a concern that nuance or tone will be affected, but I noticed none of that here. I sincerely hope that the second and third books in the trilogy will also be made available in English.

I found The Lost and Damned to be an engrossing and satisfying police procedural I’d definitely recommend to fans of the genre.


Available from MacLehose Press

Or from your preferred retailer via HiveUK I Booko I Book Depository

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. samantha1020
    Dec 03, 2020 @ 04:50:19

    I love a good police procedural! They are my go to whenever I’m in a reading mood – I’m adding this one to the TBR. Thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Jessica
    Dec 03, 2020 @ 15:14:11

    Thank you so much for posting this review! Now I know what to get my father (an avid reader and former police officer) for Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Mystica
    Dec 04, 2020 @ 01:13:17

    I too like police procedures and investigations and especially systematic detective work.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  5. Izabel Brekilien
    Dec 07, 2020 @ 07:20:16

    I once lived near the banks of the Canal de l’Ourcq 😉

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Trackback: In 2020…My Life in Books | book'd out

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