cover image Flic: The True Story of the Journalist Who Infiltrated the Police

Flic: The True Story of the Journalist Who Infiltrated the Police

Valentin Gendrot and Thierry Chavant, trans. from the French by Frank Wynne. Scribe, $25 (144p) ISBN 978-1-957363-32-5

By rendering its characters as anthropomorphic cats, this graphic adaptation of Gendrot’s controversial 2022 account Cop, on Parisian policing (Flic is French slang for cop), risks distancing readers from its explosive content. Fortunately, artist Chavant’s curious creative conceit quickly recedes from notice. Investigative journalist Gendrot went undercover as an “A.D.S.”—a so-called “contract cop” who can hit the streets with a gun after only three months’ training—to get an inside view of police culture. What he depicts is a world of nihilistic cynicism. Stewing in racist invective and anti-bureaucratic rage at the mountains of paperwork they are buried under, Gendrot’s fellow officers come across as frustrated and thwarted. They take that anger out on usually defenseless immigrants. While Gendrot depicts many potent scenes of vindictive violence—at one point, he witnesses cops pummeling a teenager with all the vicious senselessness of a scene out of A Clockwork Orange—he also digs into the policing institution’s sad state of logistical affairs. After one officer kills himself, Gendrot delves into the sense of helplessness that leads so many other police to do the same (51 in 2017). The work builds into an empathetic chronicle of human suffering, with Gendrot emerging more mystified more than outraged. It’s a thought-provoking affront to any reader looking for simple solutions. (June)