Cover image for The godmother
Title:
The godmother
Uniform Title:
Daronne. English
ISBN:
9781770415430
Physical Description:
185 pages ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Translation of: La Daronne.

First published in French by Editions Métailié, Paris, 2017

First published in English by Black Inc. Books, an imprint of Schwartz Publishing, 2019.

"Inspiration for the upcoming motion picture Mama Weed" -- front cover.
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Summary:
Patience Portefeux, fifty-three, is an underpaid Franco-Arab judicial interpreter for the Ministry of Justice who specializes in telephone tapping. Widowed, wedged between university fees for her two grown-up daughters and nursing home costs for her aging mother, she's laboring to keep everyone's heads above water. Happening upon an especially revealing set of police wiretaps, Patience makes a life-altering decision that sees her intervening in-- and infiltrating-- the machinations of a massive drug deal. It's the first step in an entirely new career path: Patience becomes 'the Godmother'. --
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Summary

Summary

A New York Times "100 Notable Books of 2019"

Inspiration for the major motion picture Mama Weed

Translated from the international bestseller La Daronne

Winner of the European Crime Fiction Prize and the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, France's most prestigious prize for crime fiction

"Exuberant... Maybe crime doesn't pay, but the guile and guts -- and humour -- with which Patience approaches this extreme solution to her desperate situation, right under the noses of law enforcement, is admirable, as are her survival instincts. 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 the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, France's most prestigious award for crime fiction." -- Publishers Weekly , starred review

Meet Patience Portefeux, a fifty-three-year-old, underpaid Franco-Arab interpreter for the Ministry of Justice who specializes in phone tapping. Widowed after the sudden death of her husband, Patience is now wedged between university fees for her grown-up daughters and nursing home costs for her aging mother.

Happening upon an especially revealing set of police wiretaps ahead of all other authorities, Patience makes a life-altering decision that sees her intervening in -- and infiltrating -- the machinations of a massive drug deal. She thus embarks on an entirely new career path: Patience becomes The Godmother.

This is not the French idyll of postcards and stock photos. With a gallery of traffickers, dealers, police officers, and politicians, The Godmother casts its sharp and amusing gaze on everyday survival in contemporary France. With an unforgettable woman at its center, Hannelore Cayre's bestselling novel reveals a European criminal underground that has rarely been seen.


Author Notes

Hannelore Cayre is an award-winning French novelist, screenwriter, and director, and a practicing criminal lawyer. Her works include Legal Aid , Masterpieces , and Like It Is in the Movies . She has directed several short films and the adaptation of Commis d'office ( Legal Aid ) is her first feature-length film. Cayre lives in Paris. After working as a lawyer in Sydney and London, Stephanie Smee made her literary translation debut with an English translation of the Countess de Ségur's Fleurville Trilogy.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Patience Portefeux, the widowed 53-year-old narrator of French author Cayre's exuberant English-language debut, lives hand-to-mouth, barely covering her two daughters' university fees and her aged mother's care working as a translator for the Paris drug squad. By chance, Patience comes into contact with the mother of a drug trafficker and, with information from police wiretaps of the trafficker's movements, is able to secure a large quantity of hash. Under the alias the Godmother, she deals herself into financial security, going so far as to launder the money in Switzerland with the purchase of pink diamonds she hides in lipstick tubes. Maybe crime doesn't pay, but the guile and guts--and humor--with which Patience approaches this extreme solution to her desperate situation, right under the noses of law enforcement, is admirable, as are her survival instincts. 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 the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, France's most prestigious award for crime fiction. (Sept.)


Excerpts

Excerpts

Thinking back on it, I tell myself now I must have been pretty bloody desperate to have hatched such a plan; a bit like the lunatic who thinks she'll dodge the bailiffs by buying a lottery ticket. At the very least, I could, with a little effort, eliminate one of the variables: the state of my dog's sense of smell. Before going home at around two in the morning, we stopped to have a pee at Rue Envierges in the 20th, a street known to be an open-air dope market. No sooner had I opened the car door than DNA shot out like an arrow to go stick his snout right into the crotch of some black dealer who leaped, terrorised, onto a car bonnet. I whistled. The dog came back to me immediately and we left. So, no problems on that front anyway. After a few hours' sleep, I returned to the Beauce, adopting a different approach to my search. I went hurtling off the freeway, mimicking Afid's panic, turning at every intersection where it seemed from a distance it might be possible to hide some drugs. I did that four times, each time letting the dog off the leash when I had a good feeling about a place. At one point, we came to a road linking the villages of Janville and Allainville; a byroad crossing through a field, lined with huge wind turbines and flanking the A10. In the distance I saw an industrial area with stacks of pipes and huge piles of gravel and drums. Looking at my iPhone, I realised why I hadn't previously noticed it on Google Earth: it was because the place where I now was had been hidden by a small cloud just as the satellite had taken the image. DNA leaped out of the car barking like a lunatic and started indicating the drums and piles of gravel. I noticed immediately that the plants bordering the edge of the area were shrivelling up as if poison had been tipped over them when emptying the contents of the barrels. Using the handle of my hairbrush as a lever, I popped off the cover of one of the drums and... there was the hash, in the form of so-called 'Moroccan bags', giant bricks of hash wrapped in plastic packages with handles. And weighing twenty kilos, enough to tear your arm off. The first barrel I opened had two of them. Knocking on the others with a stick, I established they were all full. But there were also one kilo packets of hash hidden under a pile of gravel... All of a sudden, I took stock of my own recklessness. Making a rough guess, there were millions of euros worth of cannabis at the foot of that wind turbine. Every single one of the Benabdelazizes were at risk of being tortured to death for the purpose of producing cute videos aimed at making Afid say where he had stashed the drugs. The police would have to be holding him in solitary, both him and his driver, so they, the cops, could do their best to get there first, otherwise queues would already be forming in this neck of the woods. And to think that for a moment there I was scared his sister would go digging through the register of Les Eoliades to track down my details... frankly, I had nothing to worry about: Had she had even a shred of survival instinct, after the death of her mother she had to be hiding in a deep hole on the outskirts of the bled . The only person who could suspect that I might perhaps know where to look was Afid himself, but he was in prison. I started to panic as I loaded as much as I could shove into the boot of my car, that's to say, three Moroccan bags and two Ikea bags filled to bursting with bricks of hash. Once I was back on the motorway, I relaxed. I was even surprised to find myself singing at the top of my lungs: I am a Go Fast, just me, all by myself... to the tune of Renaud's song Bande de jeunes , without realising I was totally stoned. The hash bricks stank so much despite their cellophane wrapping that when I got back to Paris it was as if I had smoked ten joints. Poor DNA was looking pretty funny too. He was asleep on his back, dribbling litres of drool, the smell of cannabis wafting through to him in his sleep and aggravating his nose. I parked the car in my spot and brought the cannabis - that is, over a hundred kilos of it - up to my apartment as quickly as I could, then I hired a van and left immediately to go and load up the rest. ***** The translations I did next were enough to warm the heart: it's nice to be able to tell yourself you've got a good product. Intercept No. 7432 dated Tuesday, 3 August. Intercept taken from the telephone device of the person under surveillance originating from line no. 2126456584539 the registered owner of which is not known to the Moroccan authorities. The person using the line is Karim Moufti alias Scotch. His interlocutor is Mounir Charkani alias Lizard. Words in Arabic translated by Madame Patience Portefeux who has been engaged for this purpose and who hereby jointly certifies this transcript. Scotch: On my mother's life, I'm telling you, it's the OG shit, totally sick. It's got the earth in it from the bled, you can smell it, it's so damned sick, you got grasshoppers hopping around on your head. It's the country, man... (Laughter.) Lizard: You've smoked too much, bro'. Scotch: Dude, bring it on, I'm gonna work the whole year with this weird-ass godmother chick. Not even thinking if she be a cop or somethin'. It's such good shit I'm gonna do it for you for 8. Lizard: You can't help scratchin' yourself above your ass, bro'. (Laughter.) Let's see it. I'm gonna show a photo like that to my cousin with the wheels. Scotch: You know what fuckin' Brandon said, about the 12 I showed him in the photo... He didn't fuck around. Your juice, it's hot shit, I'm gonna put in an order straight up, one hundred percent, that's what he said... Lizard: Dude... Scotch: Kill two stones with one bird, with your cousin, bro'. The Tunisian. Things are movin' in the city. We'll have a hookah at the Prince and have ourselves a meeting, 'cos dude, I'm feelin' it, one hundred percent. You can start sayin' to them already to get their notes together for a metre, I'm tellin' you. I had to leave the word godmother in the transcript because it appeared in French in the text that had been submitted to me. It bothered me at the time, but ultimately, I told myself that I'd just found my criminal alias. So, I'd be the Godmother. I imagined the crime squad detectives already had me down by that name in the numerous exchanges in French that didn't pass through my filter. That's because there was a lot of chatter going around about my hash; you have to say, it's not every day that such good quality product falls into the lap of dealers quite so eager to get their hands on it. Excerpted from The Godmother by Hannelore Cayre All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.