This article considers how Jean Amila's Le Boucher des Hurlus (1982) and Didier Daeninckx's Le Der des ders (1984) expose hidden crimes committed by figures of French military authority during the First World War; how they reject the myth of a France united by combat embodied in the heroic and steadfast poilu; and how they complicate and pluralise memories of the war through the existence of a counter-memory and a counter-myth founded upon the figure of the mutin de guerre. It illustrates how the French historical crime novel resolves the tension between the historian, concerned primarily with collective ideas and responsibility, and the judge, seeking to ascertain the extent of individual guilt, thereby constituting an intermediary, marrying the ethical, the factual and the political. It concludes, however, by exploring the limits of memory, narrative and collective political identity proposed in both works, but also considers the readership of such crime fiction as a contemporary counter-community.
- First World War
- French crime fiction