when a globetrotter takes up detective fiction

CRITICAL – Faced with this macabre enigma, two mismatched cops flounder: Elvis Cochran and Alex Craddock.

This article comes from Figaro Magazine

San Diego, in the far south of California, is far from being a mecca for crime. The city even has the reputation of being a city where the delinquency rate is one of the lowest in the country. However, it is the city that Alain Decker, winner of the fifth edition of the Robert Laffont-Le Figaro Magazine Investigators’ Grand Prize, chose to make it the setting for his first thriller, Days of darkness.

It must be said that this adopted Caennais, born in Alsace, knows the places like the back of his hand: “At the end of the 1980s, at the age of 19, I left for California to study the world of travel and tourism at the University of San Diego. It is a surprising city, very sanitized, with its small wooden bungalows, its beaches, a quiet city which contrasts with Los Angeles, or Tijuana, on the Mexican border. There are no murders in San Diego. This is what later made me want to write a thriller: to stage a crime in a quiet town!”

Tribute to Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran

After three years in California, with his diploma in hand, Alain Decker returned to France and began to work. But distant horizons quickly fail this young man on the verge of becoming an unrepentant globe-trotter. In 1994, he embarked on a long backpacking trip around the world. It will last two and a half years, and will take him from Asia to Latin America, to Adélie land. When he returns to France, “a little broken” by his own admission, Alain Decker settles in Normandy, near Caen. He opened a travel agency there, which he sold in 2013 to join a tourism careers school, of which he is today the director.

Between two journeys, this fan of RJ Ellory, Michael Connelly and Maxime Chattam takes up his old thriller project and gets to work. Several chapters are emerging. After many changes and corrections, Days of darkness takes shape. In the humidity of the Californian spring, a mysterious serial killer savagely murders young girls who, a priori, have nothing to connect them, except the strange wristwatch they wear on their wrists, a replica of the one designed by Charles Lindbergh after his crossing of the Atlantic.

Faced with this macabre enigma, two mismatched cops flounder: Elvis Cochran and Alex Craddock. “It’s a little musical nod to Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran, as well as Gene Vincent, whose real name was Craddock. In my novel, Cochran is a real antihero who gets dragged along throughout the investigation. We are far from a Harry Bosch. I would love to see him played in the cinema by Ben Affleck. Craddock, more mive, would rather be a sort of John Goodman. I need to visualize what I’m writing. This is true for the characters as well as the settings and landscapes. That’s good, I have another pion in life: photography. I do a lot of it. For my book, it helped me considerably.

Effectively Days of darkness shines with the quality of its descriptions, without this detracting from the rhythm and intensity of the plot. The Grand Prix des investigators jury made no mistake and enthusiastically followed Alain Decker’s two heroes in their adventures. “With the publication of this first novel, I am living a waking dream. At 54, I must have visited 120 countries. And today, I find that in France, we are good. I aspire to a more stable life, I love my job, and the second part of the adventures of Elvis Cochran is already waiting for me…”

“Days of Darkness”, by Alain Decker, La Bête noire/Robert Laffont, 390 p., €18. sdp

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