Thursday, 2 February 2012

"Belle Famille," - by Arthur Dreyfus - Chapter 22

Résumé of chapter 22 - with thanks to Frencheuropean for reading the book and sending the résumés to me in French.

The Macands decide to produce their own message, using their camera, back-lit, with close-ups that make their features look hollow, as though they have not slept well. This message is a success on the internet.

Meanwhile, in a drawing room in France, the Junior Minister of The Interior, someone who courts the media, puts down his newspaper, Le Figaro, and thinks this is a good opportunity to restore the image of the French police abroad. He decides to send one of his best inspectors to Tuscany.

Just when, on Tony's advice, the Macands are about to deactivate their phones to take out an Italian line rental, Laurence's telephone rings: it's a call from the Minister of the Interior. During the five minute conversation, the Minister presents himself as a father.

He assures them of his personal commitment to make sure that everything will be set up to bring their son back.

He was so convincing that for a few seconds, Laurence hoped that Madec would be found.

The French inspector, Jacques Braconnet, gets an unenthusiastic welcome from Andreotti, who anticipates a lot of useless effort, especially as, at the request of the Minister, journalists accompany the French police everywhere. Braconnet explains to the Macands that an abduction alert should have been launched. This doesn't bother Andreotti because, if he didn't launch an alert, "it was because he did not consider it to be necessary. Instinct told him that the truth was hidden elsewhere."

The French inspector wants to set up a reconstruction, which seems impossible to Laurence, who has totally erased the events of that evening from her memory.

At his headquarters in the Place Beauvau, the Minister thinks about the Macands' video seen on a magazine programme shown by TV channel TF1 (regretting that he had forgotten to call the presenter to wish him a happy birthday).

"In their despair, the Macands seemed to be united. What was their daughter's first name? Before her abduction, little Madaine (original first names hard to remember) must have been happy."

Stéphane, who is attempting to manage his absence from the hospital, calls the Josserands to let them know that the French inspector wants to do a reconstruction. Their trip will be paid for and it wouldn't take very long. Fabien voices their agreement, if it's good for Madec.

Stéphane relays the news to Laurence, who has returned from the hairdresser's ("look at my head. I'm ashamed to be on the telly.") The next instant, his wife slaps him. Taken by a sudden rage, he violently hits her across the face and she faints.

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