It’s Always Summer Somewhere
English edition translated by Steven Rendall
Reviewed by Seana Graham
A book with the word “summertime” in the title may seem cruel to mention to those of you still struggling with winter, or at least a cold, wet spring, but really, what better time to get away to the hot coast of the Mediterranean than at just the moment when it seems that summer will never come?
Philippe Georget’s prizewinning police procedural opens up at a little beach campground on the French Mediterranean, not too far from the border with Spain. Of course, as this genre would be nothing without a crime, a body will turn up shortly.
After this brief prologue, we find ourselves in the regional capital city of Perpignan, in the company of the man who will be our companion throughout our journey, Inspector Gilles Sebag. As his story opens, he is not thinking much about crime. He is, brooding about the summer ahead. We soon learn that Gilles, though able, has not risen as far through the ranks as by all accounts he should have. This is because of a decision he made in the now quickly receding past. What could this dark shadow be? It turns out that when his children were born, he opted to spend more time with his family than in pursuing his career. To make matters worse, this period is drawing to a close, as all his family members seem to want to be anywhere but home. Sebag’s ongoing concern about what has become of family life makes him a rather unique detective, at least in my reading experience.
Meanwhile, several young Dutch women visiting the region have come in harm’s way, and at least one of these has been murdered. Much of the book will be occupied with how the strands of their lives are woven together—and by whom. It’s a very twisty sort of tale, more successful I think in some aspects than others, but very enjoyable for all that. One of the author’s stated aims was to convey something of the flavor of this region of French Catalonia or Roussillon, as Georget frequently refers to it, and in this I think he has succeeded. Before he was a novelist, Georget was a newsman, and like several of his characters, he is a transplant to the region, and eager to soak up the local culture. We learn about many of the aspects of the area, such as the lore around Canigou, a mountain of almost sacred importance to the Catalan people.
I should mention that this title was published in English under the Europa imprint, which has a very ambitious program of making European titles available in English. There’s a fine blog called the Europa Challenge Blog, where many of their titles have been reviewed by people like me. Well, and like you, too, as all you have to do is write the blog owner and she’ll tell you how you too can be a part of the project. I’ll post a link below.