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Book of the Week: IN THE SHADOW OF THE FIRE by Hervé Le Corre 

Dive into history and go back to 150 years before our time, during one of the bloodiest events in Paris, the ten last days of La Commune.


In the Shadow of the Fire was published by Europa Editions, translated by Tina Kover, and received the French Voices Award.

Paris, 1871. The French people revolt against the Versaillais and the bourgeoisie, resulting in an insurrection aiming for direct democracy and more equality. In this historical framework, Hervé Le Corre takes us to the streets of Paris, where a race against time is underway. While the story is set during the last ten days of the Commune, known as "la semaine sanglante " (the bloody week), young girls are mysteriously disappearing from the streets of Paris. Among them,a young woman, Caroline who is engaged to Nicolas, had been kidnapped. We follow the stories of Caroline, Nicolas, Red and Adrien, and of Inspector Antoine Roques. All these characters' paths cross and un-cross as Nicolas, Red and Adrien fight for their ideals while looking for Caroline. Meanwhile, the Inspector Antoine Roques is investigating the case of the disappearing girls. Hervé le Corre manages to keep us in suspense throughout the whole book while at the same time highlighting the real hero of the story, the city of Paris.


About the author

Hervé Le Corre was born in Paris and currently teaches in the suburbs of Bordeaux, France. He is the author of several crime fiction novels, including Talking to Ghosts (2014). He also writes for the literary magazine Le Passant Ordinaire.

About the translator

Tina Kover’s translations for Europa include Antoine Compagnon’s A summer with Montaigne and Négar Djavadi’s multi-award winner and finalist of the National Book Award Disoriental.

Read an extract from In the Shadow of the Fire

p.254

“There are no more officers, no more orders! Just the people now, the people in arms!”

The captain holsters his gun, turns, walks back toward the town hall with his head down. The squadron starts running again toward the Place du Roi de Rome. A red flag is hoisted at its head amid a clamor of shouts.

“We should do the same thing,” remarks Red, watching the group recede into the distance. “We won’t win here. You must have seen that yesterday, in the Bois.”

Nicolas doesn’t answer. He finishes reassembling his rifle and stands up. His friend doesn’t drop his gaze.

“What do you want me to say? We’re going to fight. We’re going to try to get out of this alive. I just want to live for a little while when all this is over. With my Caroline, somewhere peaceful. And some children playing and squabbling. That’s a pretty simple bit of happiness, and I deserve it. And so do you, and everyone else. And one day, maybe in twenty years, who knows—we’ll have our revenge on the bourgeois, the killers. That’s another reason we have to stay alive, by God! Because whatever happens, they won’t be able to kill all of us. We’ll have to forget the terror, find reasons to live, regain our strength and our will. All of us—the poor ones—there are more of us than there are of them. There’s no way they can keep us under their thumb for much longer. What we’ve tried to do here will serve as an example, and our mistakes—what we’ve done wrong—that will be a lesson.”

Red spits on the ground and then laughs silently.

“If I understand you, we’ll be magnificent losers. Is that the word on the streets?”

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