cover image Inhuman Resources

Inhuman Resources

Pierre Lemaitre, trans. from the French by Sam Gordon. MacLehose, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-63506-081-2

Alain Delambre, the 57-year-old antihero of this intriguing but overly long thriller from Lemaitre (Three Days and a Life), works a menial job sorting cardboard boxes of medications. When his supervisor kicks Alain in the behind because he’s too slow in his duties, Alain breaks his supervisor’s nose. The fight unleashes a capacity for violence that Alain didn’t know he had. After he’s fired, Alain, who used to be a human resources executive at a Paris firm before being laid off during a downsizing, accepts an invitation from a major company to an interview that requires him to participate in a mock hostage situation. This exercise involves members of Alain’s family, and he soon gets carried away, humiliating his wife, Nicole, and his grown daughters, Lucie and Mathilde, and punching his son-in-law, Gregory. Things just go downhill from there for the arrogant and self-centered Alain, and the violence gets worse. Many readers will empathize with Alain’s rage over workplace discrimination against older employees, but the overstretched plot builds to an unlikely conclusion that will satisfy few. Lemaitre has done better. (Nov.)