I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of Pierre’s Lematire’s latest novel, Inhuman Resources, as part of the publication day blog blast.
Alain Delambre is a 57-year-old former HR executive, drained by four years of hopeless unemployment. All he is offered are small, demoralising jobs. He has reached his very lowest ebb, and can see no way out.
So when a major company finally invites him to an interview, Alain Delambre is ready to do anything, borrow money, shame his wife and his daughters and even participate in the ultimate recruitment test: a role-playing game that involves hostage-taking.
Alain Delambre commits body and soul in this struggle to regain his dignity.
But if he suddenly realised that the dice had been loaded against him from the start, his fury would be limitless.
And what began as a role-play game could quickly become a bloodbath.
Alain Delambre is a former HR executive who was made redundant 4 years ago. He’s undertaken any number of low paid, menial jobs since then in the hope that something better will come up. Except that nothing does come up – not for a man of his age. When he does finally see a role for a HR position, it’s therefore understandable that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to land the position – and I do mean whatever it takes. At the outset of the novel, Alain comes across as being an extremely ordinary, everyday kind of guy – a tad annoying at times, perhaps, but he’s very much your average person. Initially down on his luck, it’s interesting to see how his initial excitement at the opportunity crosses over into an obsession with obtaining this role which he sees as his last chance at a career, rather than just another job. And his obsession pushes him to take drastic steps…
I enjoyed the structure of Inhuman Resources, which is split into before, during, and after sections, with the hostage taking role play forming the pivotal scene. Before allows the reader to get to know Alain, his family, and his circumstances, and if I found this section a little slow to start, it soon picks up the pace as Alain becomes ever more serious about obtaining the role. During is told from a different perspective, and forms a nice break in Alain’s narrative, which is resumed in after, dealing with the consequences of that day. This was my favourite section, as I discovered more and more about what happened, and how the role play got so out of hand.
I think that Inhuman Resources is a novel that requires a little suspension of disbelief, although I soon found myself wrapped up in Alain’s narrative as he begins his preparations for the role play. He’s a desperate man, and I did feel for his situation – it’s a horrible place to be in, having worked for so much of your life and to then be cast aside and unable to find alternative employment at least partly because of your age. Set at time when France’s unemployment rates are on the increase, Alain’s “average Joe” character really does bring home that this is a situation that affects many individuals. Alain’s actions take this to extremes, but it did leave me with the question as to why we value youth over experience in the employment stakes.
As you’d expect from Lemaitre, Inhuman Resources is a cleverly plotted novel that took me by surprise, and I thought that this put a different spin on the crime novel, delivering something much more complex than I expected.
Inhuman Resources is published today – 6 September – in hardback and digital formats by MacLehose Press. Many thanks to the publisher for providing an early copy for review via Bookbridgr.
Check out the other bloggers taking part in today’s blog blitz!