The Lost German Mathurin Capitaine’s First Investigation Publication date : June 13, 2013
Jean-Claude Hazera, an economics journalist, has held several positions in the French economics press including director of Le Nouvel Economiste, editor in chief of Le Revenu français and associate editor in chief of Les Echos. He is the co-author (with Renaud de Rochebrune) of Les Patrons sous l’Occupation, published in a new edition by Editions Odile Jacob, in March 2013.
Autumn 1944: the Atlantic Wall fortifications, built by the Todt Organisation, lose their purpose after the German withdrawal and flight — as was already the case in the Brest region. But the French have other concerns: finding food and keeping warm. One bunker, however, cannot be ignored: after a storm, the bodies of ten hostages are found buried under its foundations. The hostages had been shot in retaliation for the unexplained disappearance of a German officer. The French police are in the peculiar position of having to investigate the disappearance of a member of the occupying forces that France is only too glad to be rid of.
Mathurin Capitaine has just joined the Brest police force.
A country lad, he is no genius but neither is he hardened or blasé. He knows next to nothing about a police officer’s job — except what he read in the first Maigret books. But his investigation into the ambiguities of the Liberation will make him lose his innocence.
Later, he travels to the camps where German POWs are being held while they work at defusing the landmines they had planted. In the process, he tries to understand the role of the Resistance during the last days of the Occupation and succeeds in infiltrating the small, closed world of the public-works entrepreneurs who built the Atlantic Wall. Finally, he meets a beautiful, rich widow who had a strange relationship with the Germans.
Mathurin Capitaine follows many red herrings before elucidating the German officer’s disappearance.
• Shady activities and scheming continue behind the Atlantic Wall during the last days of the French Occupation and the beginning of the Liberation: a unique backdrop for a historical thriller.