Review of Tropéano’s Gun
“Tropéano’s Gun by John Brooke –
Chief Inspector Aliette Nouvelle of the French Judicial Police presents a problem to her supervisors that has never been an issue in the United States. She does not wear her gun.
The Saint-Etienne Walther P38 she was issued on her graduation 20 years earlier from police academy has spent two decades resting at the back of her underwear drawer. (She does not advise where it has been store.)
The absence of the gun has become an issue because of the incident at the end of the last book, Walls of a Mind, where there was a shootout and she could not help as she was unarmed.
Aliette explains her reasoning for not carrying her gun:
“Because I have never ….. I mean to say, I don’t believe in …. I mean to say, a gun has never really fit with …. with my way of doing things. With all due respect, sir.”
The Divisional Commissionaire, Gael Doquès, advises her she must have respect for rules and operational procedure. He presents here with a “brand new flat-black SIG Sauer SP2022” and a detached silencer. She undertakes to wear it while on duty and practise regularly.
Before she leaves he tells her that she has been assigned to see a psychologist, Gabrielle Gravel, to deal with the issues she has with her gun. Aliette needs to get with the program.
A reluctant Aliette attends at the office of PsychoDynamo, where the stylish psy tells the officer she will “help you come to terms with your role as an officer of the law”.
Aliette is surprised, I was startled, when Gabrielle says the primary therapy will involve Aliette playing in a small personal sandbox with any of the hundreds of figures and objects Gabrielle has assembled. If she wants Aliette can wear a mask from Gabrielle’s extensive collection or make her own mask.
After a wary initial interview Aliette returns to work. While her territory is some distance from Béziers she is often at headquarters for meetings.
Within the city there is a developing major investigation. Two street people have been stabbed to death. The killings appear random but bizarre notes in the same hand writing have been found near the bodies.
Within the Judicial Police tension has been rising because of the appointment of Nabi Zidane, a French Chief Inspector of African descent, to lead the elite city squad. The unit is the most prestigious posting in the region. Zidane is resented because of his North African heritage by many within the Judicial Police who felt it should have not gone to anyone from an African background.
When a police officer is the next victim and his gun is taken the investigation becomes intense. The internal divisions with the Judicial Police are exacerbated.
Back at the office of the psy Aliette is carefully exploring her feelings about being a police officer and wearing a gun and why she needs a gun. As with most people she is a private person not anxious to explore her own psyche.
The mystery proceeds with the search for the killer roaming the streets at night and with Aliette continuing therapy with regard to her gun.
Tropéano’s Gun is far from the North American thriller. Violence is there but does not dominate the story. Instead, the book focuses on the dangers within our minds. My next post will delve into the psychological issues. Tropéano’s Gun is a mystery which requires the reader to think rather than just riding the flow of the action. (Oct. 27/15) ”
More Reviews of this title
“A Woman and Her Gun
In my last post, a review of Tropéano’s Gun by John Brooke, I set out how Chief Inspector Aliette Nouvelle of the French Judicial Police, had been referred to a psychologist because she had not wearing her gun in the 20 years she has been a police officer.
Tropéano’s Gun has psychological involvement with characters beyond Aliette but I will focus on Aliette in this post.
In both books I have read in the series Brooke has dealt with the psychology of police officers.
In probing the minds of police officers Brooke did not look to the superficial – the very evil v. the very virtuous or the dysfunctional v. the supremely competent - in Walls of a Mind. He dealt with the nuances of the relationship between two women in authority, Chief Inspector Nouvelle and Agent Margot Tessier from the French Internal Secret Service.
There are no physical confrontation between the women but there is a subtler conflict of words and attitudes. They challenge the will of each other.
Each has obviously had to deal with male bias on their way to authority but there is no gender solidarity. The women in authority find it no easier to co-operate than men.
Nouvelle projects a moral superiority to the secret agent. Tessier patronizes the police officer.
They inflict wounds of the mind.
In Tropéano’s Gun Aliette’s superiors require her to see a psychologist about her reluctance to carry her gun. While she professes not to wear it because she has never needed to use the gun in her police work her answer is unconvincing.
By not carrying a gun she creates risk for fellow officers if she is unarmed in a dangerous confrontation. The problem arose in Walls of a Mind.
Equally she may not be able to protect members of the public if a situation spirals out of control or arrest a criminal.
What is inside Aliette’s head that caused her to leave her gun in her underwear drawer for 20 years?
To remain an officer she starts carrying her gun and going to the shooting range.
Carrying a gun does not mean she will use it but Aliette starts thinking differently with a gun on her hip. She is a little less careful. She will venture more readily alone into risky areas of the city. She becomes more aggressive.
How some men relate to her is different. There are men who are excited about a woman with a gun.
We usually associate guns with men. Readers can instantly visualize a man with a gun. Do we see a woman with a gun differently?
Jill Edmondson, in her series with Sasha Jackson that is set in Toronto, does not have her tough girl P.I. carry a gun. In an interview she said she will probably have to get Sasha carrying a gun to be credible.
I would say men think little about a gun. In Tropéano’s Gun Aliette thinks a lot about her gun. She has a sense of power from carrying a gun that is absent when she is unarmed.
When Aliette is forced to play in her sandbox it is the psychologist who places a toy handgun in the sand to get her started. Aliette scraps a hole in the sand to the bottom of the box. She associates the blue bottom with the sea. Told by the psy to do as she wants in her world Aliette leaves “the gun at the bottom of the sea”.”