Philippe Jaenada’s counter-investigation

Without proof and without confession

by Philippe Jaenada

Editions Mialet-Barrault, 256 p, €19

Philippe Jaenada had accustomed us to thick novels, dealing with old court cases. By going through investigation files yellowed by time, hundreds of testimonies and as many press articles, he depicted both the time and the news item he had decided to tackle.

With Without proof and without confession, the writer this time signs a short story on a recent affair. That of Alain Laprie, sentenced to fourteen years in prison for the murder of his aunt, in 2004, which he denies having committed. In the summer of 2021, a few days before his incarceration, the sexagenarian meets Philippe Jaenada. The author, who has just spent four years on his latest novel In the spring of monsters, then intends to leave the various facts behind him. After having listened to him and read the file, he finally feels the urgency (he writes the book in a month and a half) to denounce an investigation which he considers incriminating and sloppy.

Impossible not to feel Jaenada’s amazement in the face of the investigation file full of inaccuracies, his amazement when he discovers that sending a man to prison can take a few sentences. Everything that makes the mark of the writer is there. His acerbic remarks on the lack of rigor of the investigators and on the state of an overwhelmed judicial system, in the process of collapsing, his few digressions on his life at the time. For the first time, we also feel his desire to wake up public opinion and the public authorities in the face of what he describes as “injustice”. Because Alain Laprie, sentenced in second instance after interjection of the general prosecutor’s office, is deprived of the right of appeal. In French criminal law, there is no possibility of a third examination. Philippe Jaenada’s book has only one goal, he writes: to obtain a review of the trial.


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