paul darac, a life of crime and jazz

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“You’re a jazz-playing homicide detective – that sort of sets the tone, doesn’t it? And let’s look at your taste in jazz. Plenty of people love Louis Amrstrong. Plenty of people love Ornette Coleman. You love both equally. Hint of a contradiction there? Check your attitudes in general. You’re a single-minded individualist, right? But you’re down-with-the-guys team player, too. You’re an atheist but a devout one. You’re also a passionate rationalist, a reverent iconoclast, a … I could go on and on but in short, Captain Paul Darac, guitarist extraordinaire, you are a walking collection of contradictions and paradoxes. And if that isn’t quintessentially French, I don’t know what is.”

from: Essence of Murder

Clearing up any Mess in Nice

Darac is an exceptionally gifted investigator as well as a jazz guitarist of high talent. Of course both passions often collide. Of course jazz session at his beloved club or during a festival like to be interrupted by a call to a suspicious death or straightaway to murder. Full of regret for the jazz event, however, full of craving towards a murder case Darac rushes to the spot of crime.

Darac lives in Nice, a beautiful town with the abundant flavours of the Mediterranean Sea and Southern France, nevertheless full of crime. His apartment is somewhere in between the tangled web of Nice’ s Old Town quarter and the sumptuous boulevards filled with the luxuriousness – and Darac’s world is also amid of everything. All the cases are complex and touch all walks of life.

Complex crime cases?
There is a case going back into WWII and the sickening cruelties of the Nazis. Another case seems to deal with dirty deals in the pristine world of art – while suddenly quite another story is revealed. Suddenly on another case a revenge spree rules the game although this is well hidden at the beginning. Also there is the killing of a man who was fond of women and never wasting any opportunity, but suddenly seems to be a wrong-time-wrong-location victim of an elaborate terroristic attack. Not to mention the disappearance and death of a washed-up movie star … only to learn to know that …

All cases seem straightforward at the beginning although always claiming resources from all parts of the police force. Suddenly there are changes, more information surfaces, more people and witnesses involved appear onstage … there are hidden stories in the background which seem to be highly relevant at a certain point … All is mixed up – and it needs the feeling and the hunches of Darac to entangle the mess: be sure that he is always successful in pinning down the evildoer.

However, the crime, the victims and the culprits as well as the witnesses are only one side of the coin. Darac and his team are embedded in the police administration which likes to demand quite a lot from anybody, especially from the head of the team. The big challenge is co-operation and dealing with other teams and also the examining magistrates. A hell of time is used up by any internal stuff. Another big challenge is also to classify true evidence and crunch facts from all the mess of information that is quickly accumulated when a team starts working, digging, interviewing …

Darac’s team, by the way, is brilliant, a club of individuals with specific talents and mannerisms which care for a real-life-feeling when reading the novels. These down-to-earth colleagues with their daily lives and their daily troubles at home and with their families deliver a colorful background of the whole story to be told. No details about the team at this point because it would go beyond this post – there are too many characters filling the stage.

Yes: there is a private life … Darac and his team do have a private life and it suffers from the police work, often more than acceptable. Especially Darac is a victim of his job which he cannot let go. He is left alone by his partner at the beginning of the series and it takes a long time until there is hope for a new relationship.

So at the end Darac always relies on his guitars and his jazz. As a rule he starts each morning with some jazz, totally unaffected if anybody around him likes his passion. Sometimes when reading the novels I asked myself why Darac simply not started a career in the world of jazz …

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare