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Tropéano’s Gun by John Brooke


Can Chief Inspector Aliette Nouvelle learn to love her gun? She’d better. Her career depends on a drastic about-face. Tropeano’s Gun, the 6th instalment in the series, revolves around a veteran cop’s struggle to change her approach to fighting crime in an increasingly gun-infested world. At the same time, a series of street murders shakes Beziers, the Midi city 40 kilometres from Aliette’s home base at the wine town of Saint-Brin, where she heads a small Police Judiciaire brigade responsible for a sprawling rural territory. The killings in the city are not her business. But Aliette is drawn into the mystery by a need to defend her beleaguered colleague and counterpart, Chief Inspector Nabi Zabine, head of the city-based PJ force.

It’s late January: cold, bleak, everyone looking for the mimosa to bud, signalling a much desired spring. The inspector is spending two nights a week in the city, attending sessions with psychologist Gabrielle Gravel on an order from HQ directing her to come to terms with her sidearm. The powers that be have ruled that Aliette’s failure to carry her gun is directly related to the messy conclusion of a major murder case she led the previous summer. She must learn to use deadly force. There is practice at the police shooting range. There is counselling with psychologist Gabrielle Gravel. Both are deemed vital to perfecting her aim.

The killing spree begins with savage knifings. A deranged street person is suspected. When Pierre Tropéano, a city-based PJ inspector, becomes a victim, the knife is left in his gut. But Tropéano’s side arm is taken and subsequently used in more killings. The knife pulled from Tropéano’s gut changes everything.

As she wanders the night streets, shaken by Gabrielle Gravel’s observations, getting a feel for the gun in her pocket and how it clings to her core identity, Inspector Nouvelle finds clues to the whereabouts of Tropéano’s gun—and a killer. But Aliette’s unofficial investigation takes place off duty and far from her allotted patch. One false step and she could lose her job. Or her life. Is she ready to use her gun?

February arrives. It’s getting warmer. It’s all resolved one misty, deadly Tuesday night in the city.

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