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Going to Cameroon: penetrating insight into the mind of a murderer

10-03-2014, 04:41 PM
Karen Dabrowski
<aKaren Dabrowski
Registered: 10-03-2014
Total Posts: 1

Going to Cameroon: penetrating insight into the mind of a murderer

    Could you love a murderer – someone who shot five people in cold blood? Alzain’s novel Going to Cameroon is a character study of a murderer. Narrated in the third person it describes the thoughts, reflections and philosophies of Pierre Boucher a university student in an unnamed French city who decides to murder his father’s three mistresses as a act of retribution. But is the murderer a repulsive, beastly individual or is he the victim of a tragic childhood for whom we might well shed a tear?

    Pierre discovers, by reading his mother’s diary, that the women his father had affairs with were close friends of his mother and family. He is convinced that this betrayal cannot go unpunished and with the cold, calculating mind of a professional assassin he plots their demise.

    But as the story unfolds and we learn more and more about Pierre’s life we cannot but help like the man, a sensitive, thoughtful individual who reflects about free will and destiny.

    “One’s parents could be his best friends or his worst enemies. How would my life have turned out if my mother was my worst enemy and my father was my best friend? Or if both were good friends to me? My life certainly would have turned out entirely different. If my father had loved me, or at least not mistreated me, I would have been a different Pierre. I would not have cared if he had a harem, let alone three mistresses. His persistent degradation of me since my childhood, led me to eliminate him and two of this three mistresses. It was fate that made him my father, and a beast of a father. My retribution was not the product of my free will. Was it preordained? That could be a possibility but I don’t know for certain.”

    The last paragraph of the book gives a clue to the author’s view about the reasons for Pierre’s brutal actions: “It distinctly occurred to Pierre that it was his father’s despicable behavior toward him and his mother that pushed him to his vicious spree of retribution. My hate and rage against my father led me to take a path with tragic and irreversible consequences. A path I took under the delusion of free will. An astounding realization dawned on him. My father loaded the gun and I pulled the trigger again and again.”

    The novel begins with the first murder. Like every event in the book, it is described in a clear, factual style which leaves little to the imagination. As the story evolves we learn about Pierrre’s university life, his relationship with Catherine his girlfriend and his intricate plot to pretend he has travelled to Cameroon to work for a charity.

    Pierre is apprehended by Martine, a beautiful manageress of a book shop, when he tries to steal a book. They are attracted to each other and have ####### in her locked office. The relationship develops and Martine allows him to use an old unoccupied flat which belonged to her paralyzed father. Pierre has told the world that he has gone to Cameroon when he is in fact reading novels, and having a rest after each crime.

    The novel is not short of graphic details be they about Pierre’s love making with Martine and Catherine his former girlfriend or the bullet riddled bodies of the murder victims.

    strong conviction in free will, but once he starts his well thought out killing spree things start to unravel. Unexpected events lead to tragic unplanned repercussions, shaking his belief in free will to its very core. An innocent ex soldier is apprehended for the murders and commits suicide in prison. Pierre is remorseful and muses that he should have just killed his father. Sadly a hapless taxi driver who was also having an affair with one of the mistresses and a student his father seduced are among the murder victims.

    The book is memorable for its winded discussions that came across as lectures aimed at educating the reader. They will be welcomed by some but they may annoy those who prefer to come to their own conclusions with reference to their own knowledge

    Dr. Kamil Sid Ahmed pointed out that the language in which the novel is written is superb and illustrates a brilliant command of English , enriched with frequent French, reflecting the intellectual calibre of the author and his knowledge of two languages on top of his mother tongue, Arabic

    It's abundantly evident that the Zlzain has done his home work, either when events were taking place in France, the streets, journals, the workings of crime departments, and the competition between journalists. The grasp of a number of psychological concepts, hypotheses, mental disorders, treatments, both physical and psychological, as well as philosophical issues, mainly existential involving the question of balance between free will and determinism, nature and nurture, and how far can early experiences of childhood influence and shape adult personality and behaviour, and how much can be changed are all expertly dealt with in the novel.

    Izzaldin Alzain is a management consultant who studied at the universities of Khartoum, Manchester and Grenoble. He lives with his family in Dubai.


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