Dog 51

Original title: Chien 51

Author: Gaudé, Laurent

Publication Date:

August 2022



Original language and publisher

French | Actes Sud

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia


Crime & Thrillers

Dog 51

Original title: Chien 51

Author: Gaudé, Laurent


Once upon a time, Zem Sparak was a politically engaged student and freedom fighter in his native Greece. But the country ended up selling out to the highest bidder, despite the insurrection. And in the massive, bloody clampdown on the insurgents that followed, Zem Sparak, faithful to his promise to always put life before politics, betrayed the cause. Bidding farewell to his nation and swallowing his shame, he signed up as an auxiliary security agent in the megalopolis of the future. He is now a ‘dog’, which is to say a cop, and operates in the mud and acid rain of Zone 3, the most wretched and polluted district of this city run by GoldTex, the epitome of hyper-connected and coercive post-liberalism. Several years have passed since the Great Riots, but then an investigation serves unexpectedly to revive the past.

It is here in the Citizen Dumps, a district left to languish in poverty, that a body which has been opened up along the whole length of the backbone snaps Zem out of the indifference in which he has taken refuge for so long. On the face of it, torture is not something that should happen in this city under constant video surveillance, and the cruelty of the murder is not merely for show: they had ostensibly been after all that was valuable beneath the victim’s skin.

Working under Salia Malberg, an ambitious female inspector from Zone 2, and beholden to a silent promise that he made to the corpse, Zem embarks on a lengthy investigation. In the midst of an election campaign where priority is in principle given to the arrest of those who could pose a threat to the established order, the two officers nevertheless soon run into political machinations and walls of silence.

Somewhere the truth exists, but cynicism and violence reign everywhere. A few voices do seek to make themselves heard, but they remain faint echoes in the darkness. Welcome to the post-modern world of GoldTex, a powerful consortium which purchases and privatises bankrupt countries. And from which the only escape seems to be nostalgia for a native land which, in Zem Sparak’s case, is also the place where an unforgivable betrayal took place.