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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Dead Man's Share

by
Yasmina Khadra


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Dead Man's Share



Title: Dead Man's Share
Author: Yasmina Khadra
Genre: Novel
Written: 2004 (Eng. 2009)
Length: 357 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Dead Man's Share - US
Dead Man's Share - UK
Dead Man's Share - Canada
La part du mort - Canada
Dead Man's Share - India
La part du mort - France
Nacht über Algier - Deutschland
  • An Inspector Llob Mystery
  • French title: La part du mort
  • Translated by Aubrey Botsford

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Our Assessment:

B+ : solid thriller of Algerian corruption before the outbreak of the civil war

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 31/8/2009 .


  From the Reviews:
  • "Khadra again proves to be Camusís heir apparent in this searing prequel to his Algerian trilogy featuring Supt. Brahim Llob (.....) Khadra (...) expertly depicts a country succumbing to cruelty but buoyed by its peopleís hope in the future." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Dead Man's Share is set in 1988, a few years before the Algerian Civil War broke out in full. Describing a regime based on corruption, Khadra here suggests that many of the seeds of the catastrophe to follow had long been sown.
       The Algiers in which the novel opens is almost unrecognizably tranquil, Superintendent Brahim Llob complaining:

I've been twiddling my thumbs for months. Not a single burglary, not even the most trivial dognapping. It's as if Algiers is refusing to cooperate.
       One of his underlings, Lieutenant Lino, has other things on his mind: he's fallen head over heels in love, and spends all his time with (and money on) a woman. Of course, the romance turns out to be too good to be true: it turns out that there is another man in her life, and that:
All she wanted to do was get her lover's attention and make him jealous as a wild boar.
       Worse yet, that lover is Haj Thobane, a man of immense power and influence, a legend in his own -- and many other -- minds. After Lino has been ditched there's an attempt on Thobane's life, with Lino's gun the weapon. Even Llob isn't entirely sure that Lino wasn't responsible, but he begins digging into the case in order to save his colleague and finds himself falling ever-deeper.
       Llob was also warned of the release of a dangerous mass-murderer, about whom practically nothing -- not even his name or origins -- seems to be known. He is known only as 'SNP' -- but here, too, Haj Thobane seems to be involved.
       Llob's research leads him to Algeria's ugly history as it battled France and gained independence in the early 1960s -- a time when Thobane made his reputation (and the basis for his fortune). But Thobane's hands were clearly very dirty .....
       Nobody appreciates Llob sticking his nose into things, especially not in the out-of-the-way area where Thobane comes from (and which he ruined). The pushy female historian-cum-journalist he works together with doesn't make anyone better disposed to their investigation either. But:
     " It's high time we come to terms with that war," says Soria. "The only way to do it is to look it in the eye. Evil was done. To exorcise it, we must first admit to that. My colleague and I are certain of it. We have a duty to remember; nothing will throw us off the course we have chosen, neither curses bor the executioner's sword."
       What Llob comes to understand far too late is that everyone has an agenda, and that he is being used. Yes, bad guy Thobane is brought down, but that's only the tip of the iceberg -- and, also: that was the idea. And those pulling the strings can delude themselves into praising Llob:
What you have done is priceless. Thanks to you, a healthy metabolism is establishing itself in our country. Good is finally gaining the upper hand over Evil.
       Llob knows better.
       Dead Man's Share is a fairly clever take on the insidious corruption -- moral and otherwise -- that doomed Algeria's movement towards democracy, and it's also a decent thriller.
       Khadra makes it too easy for himself on occasion, falling back on predictable exchanges and scenes such as when a meeting is arranged:
     "See you tomorrow."
     "That's right. See you tomorrow, historian. Without fail."
       (Naturally, at least one of them does not live to make the appointment .....)
       Police authority is also somewhat unbelievably taken seriously, as Llob's position (and gun) are enough to cow most everyone he encounters. Fascinatingly, the Algeria of the time is also a very safe place. People do get beaten up (notably by the police), but Llob notes:
     And since when have concealed firearms been in circulation in our country ? To my knowledge, apart from the Boulefred case, which was all over the news in the nineteen sixties, not a single delinquent has been caught with a gun on him. Am I to understand that Colombia has arrived here ?
       Longer and more elaborate than Khadra's previous Llob-novels, it's also a more confident and convincing one.

- M.A.Orthofer, 29 September 2009

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Links:

Dead Man's Share: Reviews: Yasmina Khadra: Other books by Yasmina Khadra under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       'Yasmina Khadra' is the pseudonym of Mohammed Moulessehoul. He was born in 1956, and fled his native Algeria in 2000.

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© 2009-2013 the complete review

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