A small village in the Lorraine seems peaceful and, unless one has a long memory, an unlikely setting for violence. But there are bodies here . . . bodies of young girls. As the police investigate, they find that the town that seems so innocent is full of old wounds—of war, of simmering hatreds, and, underneath it all, of the mines. Could the rifts in the landscape and the population be deep enough to hide murder?
December 2004: Police Commander Simon Dreemer is posted from Paris to the Regional Criminal Investigations Unit—the SRPJ--in Metz. He has hardly settled in before the body of a seventeen-year-old girl is found in a crevasse in a neighboring village. The corpse has been intricately bound with rope. The following day, a curious pile of twigs is discovered in the local cemetery at the foot of a statue of Dieu Piteux, an image common in the Lorraine, which depicts the body of the crucified Christ bound with ropes. And then another girl dies.
Working with Lieutenant Jeanne Modover, a native of the area, Dreemer learns of the dark side of this apparently tranquil region. Working together, Dreemer and Modover delve into the minds and memories of the men and women who were there when everything began to go wrong. Everything in the area, not just the old iron mines, goes deep beyond the surface. The first girl's body was found, for example, in the same spot where, in 1944, members of the Resistance hung a man they suspected of being a collaborator.
Aline Kiner's suspenseful and rich narrative re-creates the stifling atmosphere of a small village determined to keep its secrets but unable to keep them buried; a small village that suffers from the ghosts of war and ghosts of the mines. The Hangman displays solid and imaginative plotting of a crime nested in social and historical reality and introduces two attractive investigators.