In his first novel entitled The first called, Christian Ego offers us a clever contemporary historical thriller. If the main plot of the plot takes place in the Paris region during the scorching summer of 2003, it is with real ease that the author makes us travel from the Second World War to the early days of Christianity. Didactic while being captivating.
September 1941. Following the launching of Operation Barbarossa in June by Hitler, the armies of the Third Reich marched on Kiev. Alongside the Wehrmacht, fights the LVF, the legion of French volunteers, a section of which is in charge of a trivial mission in a vast Ukrainian plain. However, this mission leads to a fabulous discovery. The various members of the section then decide to silence its existence and keep it hidden while waiting for better times. A long wait until 2003 for the only survivor of this section. Octogenarian, Louis Gauthier then ordered a complex and perilous recovery operation from his pavilion in Versailles. But now, back in France, the expedition ends in blood with a double murder in the heart of the Rambouillet forest and the disappearance of the famous "discovery". As for the police and Commissioner Evelyne Delmas, it is in the most total fog that they begin their long and nebulous investigation.
First prize for historical thriller at the Montmorillon book fair in June 2012, The first called really presents itself as a good detective novel against a historical background even if it suffers from a few very meager faults with regard to its qualities, one of the most important of which certainly turns out to be the work of documentation. Indeed, Christian Ego totally masters his subject and he knows perfectly how to exploit it, by small touches, without ever becoming a tout or pedantic. And the result is impressive, allowing the reader to immerse themselves perfectly in the historical intrigue of this thriller and to follow its progress with surprising ease and a tangible passion. The various protagonists are well presented and the reader can easily become attached or even identify with some of them. If you're not a fan of thrillers or historical novels, reading this one might just change your mind.
Conversely, the purists of the noir novel could possibly blame it for its too mainstream side and its uneven pace. If the first hundreds of pages immediately fascinate us, if the reader from the first chapters finds himself drawn into the story with a very good alternation between narration and action, the machine gets stuck after half of the book with a rarefaction of scenes from action, themselves very quickly exposed and underexploited. But Christian Ego knows how to revive the reader's interest intelligently, if only by the very late moment when we understand the title of the thriller and the identity of this illustrious "first called". It is thus a clever and surprising first novel, suggesting an author to follow.
Christian Ego, The First Called, Toucan Noir, May 2013.