In the Shadows by Gilles Boyer and Edouard Philippe is a fast-paced, intellectual suspense/thriller about a French Presidential election candidate’s inner team. The story is narrated by the campaign’s seasoned strategist. The story is crisply written, yet still manages to dwell on the essence of French and Parisian life.
The candidate narrowly won the party’s primary election, but shortly afterwards an anonymous tip-off is received by one the candidate’s team that the party’s primary vote may have been rigged. From whom the tip came is uncertain and the head strategist and his young protege, with the help of the protege’s ex-Foreign Legion uncle, set out to find the source of the rumour and to determine its veracity. Their investigation quickly reveals a suspicious death associated with the tech firm that ran the primary vote. After the campaigns strategist and his protege are chased and then badly-beaten, another person (who turns out to be the source of the rumour) is killed.
Also alert to the possibility of the primary being rigged, the losing primary candidate maneuvres for political advantage, including a promise to be given the prime minister position in return for her silence about the primary vote and her support in the Presidential election campaign.
The stress of the campaign, plus the possibility of their Boss being involved in a rigged primary vote, (added to some personal history between team members) causes the inner team’s cohesion to fracture. Suspicions within the team are rife and threaten to derail the campaign. To retrieve the campaign, the head strategist and his protege must chase down the primary vote scandal.
The already fast-paced story goes into overdrive as the campaign approaches election night and the candidate is backed into a corner regarding minor parties’ promises and the prospect of his adversary being offered the prime minister post in return for her support and silence. The protege brings in three of his tech geek friends to complete rhe investigation before the candidate completes his laet speech before the election. And so as not to spoil the ending, let’s stop right here.
I enjoyed reading In the Shadows. It was extremely well-written. It captured the growing tension of an election campaign, it created authentic characters and wasn’t padded with unnecessary or unrelated minor threads or setting descriptions. I did enjoy reading the essentially French/European elements of the story. The ending was exciting and well-constructed. It is everything I want in a book.