Blog Blast: Inhuman Resources by Pierre Lemaitre

I’m very much a fan of Pierre Lemaitre’s books, and in particular Alex and Blood Wedding, so was delighted to be approved to receive an advanced reader copy of his new book Inhuman Resources and to be asked to take part in this blog blast.  I’m sharing with you chapter 2 of Inhuman Resources but if you’d like to pop over to Always Trust In Books first, who is sharing chapter 1, you can then come back for chapter 2 to whet your appetite a little more!

Chapter 2

Initially, I took the morning job at Pharmaceutical Logistics as a way of keeping myself occupied. At least that’s what I told Nicole, but neither she nor the girls fell for it. At my age, you don’t wake up at 4.00 a.m. for 45% of the minimum wage just to get your endorphins going. It’s all a bit more complicated. Well, actually it’s not that complicated. At first, we didn’t need the money – now we do.

I have been unemployed for four years. Four years in May (May 24, to be exact).

This job doesn’t really make ends meet, so I do a few other bits and bobs too. For a couple of hours here and there, I lug crates, bubble-wrap things, hand out fliers. A spot of night-time industrial cleaning in offices. A few seasonal jobs, too. For the past two years, I’ve been Father Christmas at a discount store specialising in household appliances. I don’t always give Nicole the full picture of my activities, since it would only upset her. I use a range of excuses to justify my absences. As this is harder for the night jobs, I have magicked up a group of unemployed friends with whom I supposedly play poker. I tell Nicole that it relaxes me.

Before, I was H.R. manager at a company with almost two hundred employees. I was in charge of staff and training, overseeing salaries and representing the management at the works council. I worked at Bercaud, which sold costume jewellery. Seventeen years casting pearls before swine. That was everyone’s favourite gag. There was a whole load of extremely witty jokes that went around about pearls, family jewels, etc. Corporate banter, if you like. The laughter stopped in March, when it was announced that Bercaud had been bought out by the Belgians. I might have been in with a shout against the Belgian H.R. manager, but when I found out that he was thirty-eight, I mentally started to clear my desk. I say “mentally” because, deep down, I know I wasn’t at all ready to do it for real. But that was what I had to do – they didn’t hang about. The takeover was announced on March 4. The first round of redundancies took place six weeks later, and I was part of the second. In the space of four years, as my income evaporated, I passed from incredulity to doubt, then to guilt, and finally to a sense of injustice. Now, I feel anger. It’s not a very positive emotion, anger. When I arrive at Logistics, and I see Mehmet’s bushy eyebrows and Charles’ long, rickety silhouette, and I think about everything I’ve had to endure, a terrible rage thunders inside me. Most of all, I have to avoid thinking about the years I have left, about the pension payments I’ll never receive, about the allowances that are withering away, or about the despair that sometimes grips Nicole and me. I have to avoid those thoughts because – in spite of my sciatica – they put me in the mood for terrorism.

In the four years we have known each other, I have come to count my job centre adviser as one of my closest friends. Not long ago, he told me, with a degree of admiration in his voice, that I was an example. What he means is that I might have given up on the idea of finding a job, but I haven’t given up looking for one. He thinks that shows strength of character. I don’t want to tell him he’s wrong; he is thirty-seven and he needs to hang on to his illusions for as long as possible. The truth is I’ve actually surrendered to a sort of innate reflex. Looking for work is like working, and since that is all I have done my whole life, it is ingrained in my nervous system; something that drives me out of necessity, but without direction. I look for work like a dog sniffs a lamp post. No illusions, but I can’t help it.

And so it was that I responded to an advertisement a few days ago. A headhunting firm looking to recruit an H.R. assistant for a big company. The role involves hiring staff at executive level, formulating job descriptions, carrying out assessments, writing up appraisals, processing social audits, etc., which is all right up my street, exactly what I did for years at Bercaud. “Versatile, methodical and rigorous, the candidate will be equipped with excellent interpersonal skills.” My professional profile in a nutshell.

The moment I read it, I compiled my documents and attached my C.V. Needless to say, it all hangs on whether they are willing to take on a man of my age. The answer to which is perfectly obvious: it’ll be a “no”. So what? I sent off my application anyway. I wonder whether it was just a way of honouring my job centre adviser’s admiration.

When Mehmet kicked me in the arse, I let out a yelp. Everyone turned around. First Romain, then Charles, who did so with greater difficulty as he was already a couple of sheets to the wind. I straightened up like a young man. That’s when I realised that I was almost a head taller than Mehmet. Up to now, he had been the big boss. I’d never really noticed his size. Mehmet himself was struggling to come to terms with kicking me in the arse. His anger seemed to have abated entirely, I could see his lips trembling and he was blinking as he tried to find the words, I’m not sure in which language. That was when I did something for the first time in my life: I tilted my head back, very slowly, as though I were admiring the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and then whipped it forward with a sharp motion. Just like I’d seen on television. A head-butt, they call it. Charles, being homeless, gets beaten up a lot, and knows all about it. “Nice technique,” he told me. For a first-timer, it seemed a very decent effort.

My forehead broke Mehmet’s nose. Before feeling the impact on my skull, I heard a sinister crack. Mehmet howled (in Turkish this time, no doubt about it), but I couldn’t ram home my advantage because he immediately took his head in his hands and sank to his knees. If I had been in a film, I almost certainly would have taken a run-up and laid him out with an almighty kick in the face, but my skull was aching so much that I also took my head in my hands and fell to the ground. Both of us were on our knees, facing each other, heads in hands. Tragedy in the workplace. A dramatic scene worthy of an Old Master.

Romain started flapping around, no idea what to do with himself. Mehmet was bleeding everywhere. The ambulance arrived within a few minutes. We gave statements. Romain told me that he’d seen Mehmet kick me in the arse, that he would be a witness and that I had nothing to worry about. I kept silent, but my experience led me to believe that it definitely wouldn’t be as simple as all that. I wanted to be sick. I went to the toilets, but in vain.

Actually no, not in vain: in the mirror, I saw that I had a gash and a large bruise across my forehead. I was deathly pale and all over the place. Pitiful. For a moment, I thought I was starting to look like Charles.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I hope that sharing this chapter with you will encourage you to pick up a copy of Inhuman Resources!

Many thanks to Ella at Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog blast today!

Book Review: Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre

What’s it about?

Sophie Duguet-young, successful, and happily married–thought at first she was becoming absentminded when she started misplacing her mail and forgetting where she’d parked her car the night before. But then, as her husband and colleagues pointed out with increasing frustration, she began forgetting things she’d said and done, too. And when she was detained by the police for shoplifting, a crime she didn’t remember committing, the confusion and blackouts that had begun to plague her took on a more sinister cast. Her marriage started to come apart at the seams.

Now Sophie is in much deeper water: the young boy she nannies is dead while in her care, a tragedy of which she has no memory. Afraid for her sanity and of what the police will do to her when the body is discovered, Sophie goes on the run, changing her identity and appearance to evade the law. Forced to lead a very different kind of life, one on the margins of society, Sophie wonders where everything went wrong.

Still, with a new name and a new life, she hopes that she’ll be able to put her demons to rest for good. It soon becomes clear, however, that the real nightmare has only just begun . . .

My thoughts

This was our latest book club.  We’d previously read Alex, by the same author, as a group read so we were all very pleased and excited to be reading another and it didn’t disappoint!

The first part of the book is told by Sophie, where we follow her on the run and everything she does to survive under the radar and hide her identity.  I had to persevere with it at the start as I really had no idea what was going on.  The second part goes onto Frantz, and it’s with his story more is unravelled and what is has to do with Sophie.  Part 3 is where it really gets interesting!!!  Neither of these characters are particularly likeable but the author still manages to make the story move at such a pace that you will keep reading!

There are some quite sexually orientated scenes which might not be your thing.  Whilst I was reading them, I just kept thinking my mum is reading this (she might actually be reading this, OMG, hi mum!!) which made me cringe! 😉

Whilst we all felt that 90% of the book was dark, twisted and cunning we all agreed that the ending felt rushed and very easy.  A bit of a shame after such an intense build-up.

I thought that the French to English translation was excellent.  There were certain phrases (I forget now though which) that made me wonder if the author had written them, or whether the translator had interpreted it that way for an English-speaking market.  Either way, it was great!

Any future novels by this author will instantly be added to my TBR!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author link: Goodreads

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 320
Publisher: MacLehose Press

WWW Wednesday (April 25th)

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday!

I have book club this evening, where we’ll be discussing Blood Wedding, so will catch up with your comments and WWW posts as soon as possible.

I’m reading The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

My first impression, after the first few pages, was confusion.  I’m not a fan of books that confuse me and don’t explain what’s going on.  This may be fine when books use typical English language, but when ‘new’ words specific to the book’s plot are introduced well…..I’ll persevere!

The blurb

Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?

For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.

The threat is closer than they realise…

 

 

 

 


I recently finished Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

As with Alex, this is a dark, very twisted and cunning tale!

The blurb

Sophie Duguet-young, successful, and happily married–thought at first she was becoming absentminded when she started misplacing her mail and forgetting where she’d parked her car the night before. But then, as her husband and colleagues pointed out with increasing frustration, she began forgetting things she’d said and done, too. And when she was detained by the police for shoplifting, a crime she didn’t remember committing, the confusion and blackouts that had begun to plague her took on a more sinister cast. Her marriage started to come apart at the seams.

Now Sophie is in much deeper water: the young boy she nannies is dead while in her care, a tragedy of which she has no memory. Afraid for her sanity and of what the police will do to her when the body is discovered, Sophie goes on the run, changing her identity and appearance to evade the law. Forced to lead a very different kind of life, one on the margins of society, Sophie wonders where everything went wrong.

Still, with a new name and a new life, she hopes that she’ll be able to put her demons to rest for good. It soon becomes clear, however, that the real nightmare has only just begun . . .


What’s up next? Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie

It’s been a few months since I read a Christie and with the recent BBC drama just finishing, which I’ve not yet watched, I’m going to read this one next.  I believe that the ending in the TV adaptation was changed so this makes me more the curious.

The blurb

Evidence that clears the name of a boy sentenced for killing his adopted mother arrives too late to save his life – so who did kill her?

According to the courts, Jacko Argyle bludgeoned his mother to death with a poker. The sentence was life imprisonment

But when Dr Arthur Calgary turns up a year later with the proof that confirms Jacko’s innocence, he is too late – Jacko died behind bars from a bout of pneumonia.

Worse still, the doctor’s revelations re-open old wounds in the family, increasing the likelihood that the real murderer will strike again…

 

 

 


Have you read any of my choices this week?

Do share what you’re reading and recommendations in the comments…

WWW Wednesday (April 18th)

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday!

I’m away till Friday, in hopefully sunny Suffolk, so will do some blog hopping upon my return 🙂

I’m reading Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre

Just started reading this one so nothing to report yet.  Have high hopes though as I loved Alex!

The blurb

Sophie Duguet-young, successful, and happily married–thought at first she was becoming absentminded when she started misplacing her mail and forgetting where she’d parked her car the night before. But then, as her husband and colleagues pointed out with increasing frustration, she began forgetting things she’d said and done, too. And when she was detained by the police for shoplifting, a crime she didn’t remember committing, the confusion and blackouts that had begun to plague her took on a more sinister cast. Her marriage started to come apart at the seams.

Now Sophie is in much deeper water: the young boy she nannies is dead while in her care, a tragedy of which she has no memory. Afraid for her sanity and of what the police will do to her when the body is discovered, Sophie goes on the run, changing her identity and appearance to evade the law. Forced to lead a very different kind of life, one on the margins of society, Sophie wonders where everything went wrong.

Still, with a new name and a new life, she hopes that she’ll be able to put her demons to rest for good. It soon becomes clear, however, that the real nightmare has only just begun . . .


I recently finished Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce

This is a really heartfelt read which reminded me of 89 Charing Cross Road and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.  For fans of the dying letter!

The blurb

London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .

 


What’s up next? The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

Thanks Shaz at Jera’s Jamboree for the recommendation and the copy of the book.  This is very out of my comfort zone but I’m all for giving it a go!

The blurb

Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?

For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.

The threat is closer than they realise…

 

 

 


Have you read any of my choices this week?

Do share what you’re reading and recommendations in the comments…

Catch up soon 🙂

WWW Wednesday (April 11th)

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday, hope you’ve all had a great reading week!

I’m reading Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce

I’m only a couple of chapters in but I love it already.  I love the main character Emmy, the era, I already know it’s going to be a favourite!

The blurb

London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .


I recently finished The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I’ve not read anything quite like this before and would be open to more like it – totally deservedly of all the hype surrounding it! Review here.

The blurb

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…


What’s up next?

This is my next book club read which we’ll be discussing in 2 weeks!  This will be my third Lemaitre book so expecting good things.

The blurb

Sophie Duguet-young, successful, and happily married–thought at first she was becoming absentminded when she started misplacing her mail and forgetting where she’d parked her car the night before. But then, as her husband and colleagues pointed out with increasing frustration, she began forgetting things she’d said and done, too. And when she was detained by the police for shoplifting, a crime she didn’t remember committing, the confusion and blackouts that had begun to plague her took on a more sinister cast. Her marriage started to come apart at the seams.

Now Sophie is in much deeper water: the young boy she nannies is dead while in her care, a tragedy of which she has no memory. Afraid for her sanity and of what the police will do to her when the body is discovered, Sophie goes on the run, changing her identity and appearance to evade the law. Forced to lead a very different kind of life, one on the margins of society, Sophie wonders where everything went wrong.

Still, with a new name and a new life, she hopes that she’ll be able to put her demons to rest for good. It soon becomes clear, however, that the real nightmare has only just begun . . .


Have you read any of my choices this week?

Do share what you’re reading and recommendations in the comments…