To mark a black stone this week after the revelation of a possible end to the right to abortion in many US states, here are two thrilling thrillers about the sometimes tragic fate reserved for women. And they are not the only ones, so much the authors and authors of noir novels, sensitive to the hot news, tend to grasp the topic more and more: let’s remember the second wife (Le Masque, 2020), this terrifying thriller by Louise Mey, a story of control that has locked us in full confinement when many women have been locked up with a spouse perhaps of the same blow as the main character of the novel.
Unhealthy behind closed doors
All that is yours will burn, by the British Will Dean, it is not recommended for sensitive people. Law clinging to the pages, heart in heels, stomach twisted, without a touch of dryness. The situation he describes is dire, he feels almost physically. A Vietnamese girl, sent to Europe with her sister by her parents via a smuggling ring, was “sold” to a lonely farmer living in the middle of the vast plains of the English East Midlands. Thanh Dao became a servant and a sex slave. She has survived in a way since her tormentor broke her foot to punish her for wanting to rebel, limp, suffer in silence, under the influence of this man who made her of her. “My ankle is burned. Nerves, bones, tendons and muscles are mush, a mixture of sharp splinters and shriveled flesh. Fire. I don’t feel anything else. Pain is something I endure every day of my life, but not like this. It is the horror. My mouth is open. A silent cry. A hopeless, endless cry.
Against the pain, when she has behaved well, he gives her some pads for horses. He calls her Jane because her mother was called Jane and she lives in reverence for this mother whose tablecloths and old tea towels serve as clothing or hygienic protection for young Vietnamese. She knows that no one will come to help her because no one knows where she is. She clings to the idea that her sister has managed to escape this ordeal and reach the city where she found a job. And also to her objects, the last vestiges of her life before her. She was twelve, she only has four left because he threw the others into the fire, one by one, in front of her eyes, every time she tried to escape: her ID card showed her real name, in Vietnamese, dated and place of birth; the photo of her parents; letters from her sister Kim-Ly; and the book she reads and rereads to keep, Of mice and men. To avoid seeing them disappear in the flames, she accepts humiliation and grievances by gritting her teeth, undergoes his assaults lying on a towel, sheet pulled over her face, gradually losing her vital energy. Until the day a woman knocks on the door, breaking the unhealthy order of this camera.
The novel by Céline Denjean, He dies, it is very different. The writing is less fluid, less tight but the story is perfectly mastered. We challenge you to read the first five pages without immediately wanting to devour the remaining 363. A woman runs in the pouring rain, clutching her heavy unborn belly as best she can. She is scared, she is running away from something or someone, so lost and terrified by the storm that she cannot see the van hitting her. Before dying in the arms of two men who have stopped, she has time to whisper “Save others”, “Save the others”. These three words will haunt the agent Louise Caumont, already weakened by a painful past, who will move heaven and earth to understand the message sent by the victim. Her investigation of her will lead her on the trail of trafficking in women, or rather bellies, because it involves carrying out surrogacy activities on African women on behalf of wealthy and sterile French families, ready to do anything to have a child. And also to turn a blind eye to the conditions in which it was provided to them.
Two powerful and desperate noir novels that say a lot about the way that remains to be done to educate certain men, in different parts of the planet, who do not treat women better than pets.
All that is yours will burn, Will Dean (translated from English by Laurent Bury), Belfond, 266 pp., € 20.
Dies, Céline Denjean, Marabooks, (Black Lab), 368 pp., € 20.90.