“In the mouth of the bear”, hunted poachers

Attention, punch book. At a time when nature preservation has become a major concern, this American thriller immerses us in the heart of the Appalachians, in the United States, where among bears and salamanders, between canopy and canyons, unusual species of plants remain. , insects and reptiles. This novel is a real immersion in animal nature alongside a young forest ranger who is tracking down the Mexican cartel he has cheated. His name is Rice Moore and he found refuge there, in this forgotten reserve of the world where swarms a fauna that we would always like to be wild. But the savages are not always what we think. The day he discovers a slaughtered bear carcass, legs cut and belly open, Rice understands that poachers haunt the reserve at night in search of these protected animals whose vesicles are prized by the Chinese and represent fortunes. And he decides to hunt them down, impossible to let perpetrate such crimes in the reserve for which he is in charge.

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At first, he tries to bait poachers by making it known that he sells bear vesicles, hiding that they are actually pig vesicles that he had a hard time obtaining. He kicked the dusty back of the mule lightly. A thousand flies shot up to the sky, their roar like song. Dull squeals rose from the carrion. The mule’s face remained impassive, its eyes gouged out by crows, its twisted lips baring big square yellow teeth in an ambiguous expression, neither a smile nor a grimace, but something else. As if some ultimate and unexpected wisdom had finally come to him. He kicked his shoe again, more forcefully, and four piglets smeared with blood and shit gushed out squealing in fear as if the gaping belly of the mule had just given birth to them, then they ran across the paddock to the stall. . “ The poachers are bullies but they are not stupid, they quickly understand the merry-go-round and here is Rice being chased by other bastards. He does not give up however and sets up another plan to trap the culprits. Nature is not always what you think and the pages that describe this sequence are striking.

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Native of Virginia, photographer passionate about nature, which explains his very visual way of telling plants and animals, James A. McLaughlin has just obtained for this novel the Grand Prix for detective literature 2020 alongside Frédéric Paulin for his black trilogy (War is a ruse, First fruits of the fall, Factory of Terror) on the roots of Islamist terrorism in Agullo.

In the mouth of the bear, James A. McLaughlin (translated from English by Brice Matthieussent), Rue de l’hiquier, 437 pp., 23 euros.

Alexandra Schwartzbrod


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