Manotti, Dominique - 'Lorraine Connection' (translated by Amanda Hopkinson and Ros Schwartz)
THE LORRAINE CONNECTION by Dominique Manotti is a gripping thriller about corporate corruption, centring on a lethally dangerous Daewoo factory in the depressed former steel town of Pondange in Lorraine, near the Luxembourg and Belgian borders.
After a fatality on the production line, and finding out that the year's bonuses are to be withheld, the factory workers strike. In the ensuing confusion, the factory is razed to the ground. The local Daewoo management and local dignitaries manage to deflect attention from the company and pin the blame on the head of the strikers, Noureddine. It is a particularly sensitive time for Daewoo as they are just in the process of taking over a multimedia company with a highly lucrative arms trading business. Business rivals of Daewoo appoint private investigator with a murky past, Montoya, to hopefully dig up sufficient dirt on Daewoo to hijack the takeover bid. As Montoya speaks to the factory's workers to find out more about the fire and the factory, the factory workers' lives start to become yet cheaper still to their former bosses.
THE LORRAINE CONNECTION provides a sharp social commentary, contrasting the bleak conditions and outlook for those living on the Pondange public housing estates against the hunting and gourmet cuisine enjoyed by the corrupt business and establishment bigwigs. This thriller is an unusual, stylish and compelling read which I would highly recommend.
Laura Root, England