The Awkward Squad – Sophie Hénaff


After a 6-month suspension from her role as an up-and-coming police officer after having fired “one bullet too many”, Anne Capestan is relieved to discover she still has a job to return to. She’s a little suspicious, however, when she’s told she’s being promoted to Commissaire, and will be running her own squad – and with good reason. The squad will be a dumping-ground for every misfit, loser cop the force can’t fire, and every cold case ruining the stats for the high profile teams.

Initially disappointed at this turn of events, Capestan decides to make the best of the situation: just because they’ve been assigned the role of “losers”, doesn’t mean they have to see themselves that way. As the misfits start trickling in, she realises that they are all skilled in their own way – the “bad luck charm” (who is a skilled detective), the wealthy author of police procedurals (with a nose for plotting out motives and likely scenarios), the by-the-books ex-internal affairs copper (who made the mistake of coming out of the closet), the garrulous but charming alcoholic, the gambling addict, the brain-damaged IT whizz, the petrolhead (who is a terrible driver), and the highly-principled stool pigeon (who ratted out one too many corrupt officers to the press). And of course, Pilote the mutt (the best, and most spoiled, police dog ever).

Together, this rag-tag group of outcasts bonds quickly – they find a sense of belonging with these kindred spirits. When everyone’s a “loser” then nobody is: the team begins to blossom and use their special “skills” and quirks to their advantage. Capestan lays down a challenge: solve cases, and prove to the higher-ups (and themselves) that this team is not just a collections of failures.

Whether on stakeout, attempting to win the “eat 3 petits-beurre in under a minute” challenge, or decorating their increasingly-plush headquarters (a fireplace and a chandelier!), the good-natured congeniality, wry humour and genuine loyalty affection this team display for each other; paired with Capestan and company’s tenacious and inventive detective work; make this an engaging and highly entertaining read. The story is superbly crafted and kept me guessing right ’till the end, and the pacing is great; fairly zipping along like a speedboat, but without sacrificing character development.

Like a freshly-made paté aux pomme de terre devoured on a park bench in late summer, this is pure comfort food: satisfying, pleasurable, and over too soon. I can’t wait for more adventures with this not-so-awkward squad!

Provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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