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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


A Very Profitable War

Didier Daeninckx

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To purchase A Very Profitable War

Title: A Very Profitable War
Author: Didier Daeninckx
Genre: Novel
Written: 1984 (Eng. 1994)
Length: 218 pages
Original in: French
Availability: A Very Profitable War - US
A Very Profitable War - UK
A Very Profitable War - Canada
Le der des ders - Canada
A Very Profitable War - India
Le der des ders - France
Tod auf Bewährung - Deutschland
El último de los últimos - España
  • French title: Le der des ders
  • Translated by Sarah Martin

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Our Assessment:

B : solid noir set in France just after the end of World War I

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Die Welt . 10/9/2011 Holger Kreitling

  From the Reviews:
  • "Dabei lässt der Roman keine Wünsche offen, er ist spannend, komisch, wissenssatt." - Holger Kreitling, Die Welt

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:

       A Very Profitable War is narrated by René Griffon, who sets himself up as a private detective in Paris after the end of the First World War. He doesn't boast of the Croix de Guerre with honours he received for his services -- well aware that it was mostly just a matter of the place and terrible circumstances (and his luck) that led to his getting the medal. In any case, he'd rather leave the traumatic memories of the front lines behind him -- though they do continue to bubble up.
       That said, like so many at the time, he sees opportunity in the consequences of the war too: as is the case with the PI business at any time and everywhere, divorce cases are the bread and butter, and Griffon comes up with a novel idea how to help ... process divorces for the young ladies who stayed at home and are looking to move on. The case he gets drawn into, however, is something of a rather different sort and order, as he is hired by the wealthy Fantin de Larsaudière, who is being blackmailed by someone who apparently has compromising information about his wife's very loose ways.
       The de Larsaudière family was of the bluest of blood -- right down to having lost all their money -- which led to a marriage that was certainly also one of convenience, Fantin marrying Amélie Darsac, whose family was into alcohol wholesaling and whose cognac would sell a whole lot better under the Fantin de Larsaudière-label than the Darsac one. She had the money, he had the name -- and if one of them died, the other would inherit it all, making for some strong incentives if all wasn't right with their marriage. Needless to say, one of them dies .....
       Griffon's assistant and significant other is the strong-willed and very efficient Irène, who proves helpful with her research and insight. Griffon does his PI thing -- checking up on the wife's wild ways, getting beat up for his trouble -- and won't let go even after de Larsaudière tells him his services are no longer required (as the man apparently is ready to pay off the blackmailers). Of course, Griffon finds himself getting drawn deeper into a very tangled web that includes healthy doses of war-profiteering, a dose of anarchism, and all sorts of American goods -- from Griffon's much-loved Packard to his first pair of jeans to the spoils of war (some rather more spoilt than others).
       Daeninckx twists a nice little noir out of this, with Griffon's voice a pretty well-captured hardened but still somewhat easy-going one that isn't pulled down too deep by the trauma of his recent war experiences; Irène also makes for an appealing associate (and more). With big money, the horrors and outrages of war, and all sorts of betrayals, A Very Profitable War is nicely packed with motives and dirty deals, too -- making for, all in all, an entertaining thriller that also offers a good picture of the times.
       Finally, A Very Profitable War is also noteworthy because Daeninckx doesn't just think outside the box as far as this fairly well-worn genre goes, he shatters it, going where pretty much no first-person PI narratives dare to go in its conclusion -- a final twist that's hard not to admire.

- M.A.Orthofer, 15 February 2013

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A Very Profitable War: Reviews: Other books by Didier Daeninckx under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Didier Daeninckx was born in 1949.

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© 2013-2014 the complete review

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