This week, to mark a black stone following the unveiling of a possible end to the right to abortion in many U.S. states, here are two thrilling thrillers about the sometimes tragic fate reserved for women. And they are not the only ones, so much so that writers and writers of noir novels, sensitive to burning news, have a tendency to grasp more and more of the subject: we remember the other wife (Le Masque, 2020), this fearsome thriller by Louise Mey, a story about control that got us stuck in full confinement when many women were imprisoned inside with a spouse, possibly from the same barrel as the main character in the novel.
Unhealthy behind closed doors
Everything that is yours will burn, by the British Will Dean, not recommended for sensitive people. He reads, clinging to the sides, his heart on his heels, his stomach clenched, without a hair of dryness. The situation he describes is terrible, it is felt almost physically. A Vietnamese girl, sent to Europe with her sister by her parents through a smuggling ring, has been “sold” to a lone farmer living in the middle of the great plains of England’s East Midlands. Thanh Dao became a servant and a sex slave. She has survived in a way since her tormenting spirit broke her foot to punish her for wanting to rebel, limping, suffering in silence, under the influence of this man who has made her his thing. “My ankle is burned. Nerves, bones, tendons and muscles are porridge, a tangle of sharp splinters and shrunken flesh. Fire. I feel nothing else. Pain is something I endure every day of my life, but not like this. It is the horror. I have my mouth open. A silent cry. A cry without hope, without end.
For pain, when she has behaved well, he gives her tablets for horses. He calls her Jane because her mother’s name was Jane, and he lives in honor of this mother whose hooks and old tea towels serve as clothing or hygienic protection for the young Vietnamese. She knows no one will come to help her because no one knows where she is. She clings to the idea that her sister was able to escape this ordeal and reach the city where she found a job. And also to objects, the last remnants of his life before. She had twelve of them, she has only four left because he threw the others into the fire, one by one, before her eyes every time she tried to run away: her identity card showing her real name, in Vietnamese, with date and place of birth; the picture of his parents; letters from his sister Kim-Ly; and the book she reads and rereads to keep, Of mice and men. To avoid seeing them disappear into the flames, she accepts humiliations and protests as she grits her teeth, is subjected to her assaults lying on a towel, the sheet pulled over her face, and gradually loses her vital energy. Until the day a woman knocks on the door and breaks the camera’s unhealthy order.
The novel by Céline Denjean, door, 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 pouring rain and grabs as best she can her heavy belly of an unborn child. She is scared, she flees from something or someone, so lost and terrified in the storm that she cannot see the van that is going to hit her. Before she dies in the arms of two men who have stopped, she has time to whisper “save the others”, “save others”. These three words will haunt Constable Louise Caumont, already weakened by a painful past that will move heaven and earth to understand the message of the victim. Her study will lead her on the trail of trafficking in women, or rather stomachs, because it involves performing surrogacy on African women on behalf of wealthy and infertile French families, ready to do anything to have a child. And even to turn a blind eye to the conditions under which it was delivered to them.
Two powerful and desperate noir novels that say a lot about the way that needs to be done to educate certain men, in different parts of the planet, who do not treat women better than pets.
Everything that is yours will burn, Will Dean (translated from English by Laurent Bury), Belfond, 266 pp., € 20.
door, Céline Denjean, Marabooks, (Black Lab), 368 pp., € 20.90.