The Godmother by Hannelore Cayre, Stephanie Smee | Black Inc.

The Godmother

Book club notes

Awards for The Godmother

  • Winner, 2019 European Crime Fiction Prize
  • Winner, 2019 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière
  • Winner, 2020 CWA Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger Award

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About the author

Hannelore Cayre

Hannelore Cayre is a French writer, director and criminal lawyer. The Godmother won the European Crime Fiction Prize and the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, and has been shortlisted for a Crime Writers’ Association Dagger …

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Read an extract

The Godmother
Stephanie Smee

Stephanie Smee left a career in law to work as a literary translator. Recent translations include Hannelore Cayre’s The Inheritors and The Godmother (winner of the CWA Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger award), Françoise Frenkel’s …

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Praise for The Godmother

‘Devourable in a sitting and tastes deliciously like one of the narrator’s beloved Rothkos – dark at its centre, pulsing outward through all the more complex flavours.’ —Sarah Krasnostein

‘Patience Portefeux is a woman you won’t easily forget: tough, fearless and flawed, a modern-day heroine you'll find yourself rooting for from beginning to end.’ —Anna Jaquiery

‘A perfect little slice of French noir, written in crisp, astringent prose from which unfurls a story much more complex than its 170 pages suggest. Expertly plotted, The Godmother is the most compelling crime novel I’ve read in years, rich with the sort of idiosyncratic detail only a criminal lawyer like Cayre could know. It eschews the moral reductionism of most drug narratives, laying bare the hypocrisies of the system itself. Patience Portefeux is a wonderful combination of wit, courage and sly subversion, surprising us all the way to the end.’ —Fiona McGregor

‘Rigorous, superbly plotted by an author who clearly knows the territory. Vivid, smoky dialogue and a sly ending that ticks all the boxes . . . Masterly.’ —Le Figaro

‘The Paris of Cayre’s The Godmother is a spicy mix of cultures and classes so deftly evoked you can smell the cigarettes, coffee and Moroccan hash, taste the kebabs and Chamonix Orange cakes, feel the summer sweat trickle down your back and the hot asphalt stick to your feet. Reading this novel is a visceral delight.’ —Angela Savage

‘Readers will be anxious about the fate of the forthright, sympathetic Patience up to the final page. It’s no surprise that this novel won France’s most prestigious award for crime fiction.’ —Publishers Weekly starred review

‘A fabulous noir – more Balzac or Joyce Carol Oates than Simenon’ —Le Point

‘Spectacular’ —Annabel Crabb

‘...suspenseful and deliciously black comic crime novel.’ —Sydney Morning Herald and The Age ‘Pick of the Week’

‘Cayre is a first-rate novelist and she doesn’t waste a word in this excellent short novel with dealers, traffickers, cops and quirky Frenchmen all getting their time on the page.’ —The Globe

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Illustration of flamingo bending over on a rock next to a pool of water
Red line bordering title behind five large blue upside down fish stamps