Inspector Gilles Maintenon, Hero of “Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon Mystery” by Louis Bertrand Shalako

You are Inspector Gilles Maintenon of the Surete?


Some of your homicide cases are being explored by author Louis Shalako?


One of your cases is detailed in ‘Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery?’


Are you the hero of your own story?

I am never the hero, Madame. Standard operating procedure is to reduce risks as much as possible for all concerned. This includes the guilty as well as the innocent.

What is your problem in the story?

A young man is accused of murder, and what little evidence there is definitely implicates him and no other. But I did not believe him capable of murder under these particular circumstances. Most of us would kill, and justifiably so, to protect our families and our own lives.

How do your friends see you?

I have never asked. We remain friends after many years, so I suppose I’m all right to get along with.

How do your enemies see you?

My enemies see me from the wrong side of a set of steel bars or a police desk.

How does the author see you?

I think he sees me as an extension of himself…a useful tool, to misquote the Socialists.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

No, but he tried very hard.

What do you think of yourself?

I try not to think about it too much.

What are your achievements?

Several hundred murderers have been guillotined, and many more reside for the term of their lives in new surroundings, partly due to my efforts as well as the efforts of my colleagues and brother officers.

Do you have any special weaknesses?

I have the romantic’s tendency to dream, which I believe to be incurable. If I run out of cigars, I can be pretty miserable. There are a few others.

Do you have any skills?

I am thoroughly trained in the art of detection and criminal psychology.

If you had not become a policeman, what would you have done with your life?

I have asked myself that question many times.

What do you want?

Perhaps it is a question of what I don’t want—I don’t want to die alone. In that sense, I am no different than anyone else. But in answer to your question, I have everything that I need…except love.

What makes you angry?

I should say that crime makes me angry, but that would be a half-truth. Certain types of crime are merely pathetic, and I have more than my share of compassion for both victim and perpetrator. What makes me angry, really angry? Violence makes me angry. It resonates with me. I could be like that all too easily. My job is to prevent it, or, when that fails, as it so often does, to bring the miscreants to justice. I have learned to govern my passions accordingly. Otherwise I would not be able to do my work. And, I think my life could have turned out very differently. This was something I only learned recently.

Are you lucky?

Yes, I probably am, but I never rely on luck. Hard work, clear thinking, persistence and teamwork are the key to success as a gendarme.

What in your past had the most profound effect on you?

My wife. Even now, I can barely speak her name without blinking back tears.

Was there a defining moment of your life?

I wanted to be a professional cyclist. You must understand the romance of the early days of the sport. I was very young. But my father convinced me to become a gendarme. It was a secure job, and the pay was the best I could hope for. My father had little schooling, and he saw it as a way out of the crushing poverty he had accepted as his own fate. He wanted better for all of us. My father was not exactly lavish with his praise. I can only think of three times in my life when he said he was proud of me. When I was accepted into the Police Nationale, was one of those times. He cried at the ceremony.

Is there anything else about your background you’d like to discuss?

No, not particularly.

‘Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery’ is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in e-book and print.

Click here for an interview with: Louis Bertrand Shalako, Author of ‘Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery’

Louis Bertrand Shalako, Author of ‘Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery’

Welcome, Louis. What is your book, ‘Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery’ about?

It is about a lonely, middle-aged widower, struggling to find a reason not so much to live, as to enjoy life again.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

A short story based upon the same character got some one-star reviews by people who didn’t know what Dadaist elements were, and had no idea that a short story couldn’t possibly deal with a subject in as great a detail as a full novel. I guess I accepted the implied challenge, and I knew I couldn’t just walk away.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Growing up, there were a lot of British detective mysteries and quite of few of the Brett Halliday/Mike Shane type books around the place. My grandparents also had some bookshelves which I raided as often as I visited. Detective fiction was a big influence in my thinking. I wanted to be like Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe’s legman.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I don’t think we can write a book without some autobiographical influence. All we can write about is what we have experienced, or seen and heard about. To dream or visualize something that has no reference to our past would be a spectacular achievement. It would be a story that had no influences, no inspiration, no imitative element at all. And writing is in my opinion an imitative endeavour. Why do we write? Because we love what we have read. And so we want to do that, and to be like that.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

The Inspector Gilles Maintenon character was certainly interesting, because there is some French blood in the family tree, and because it gave me another look at the religion of my childhood, even if only in the most superficial way.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took about seven months, with some long breaks due to moving and sheer disruption. I also tend to write less in the summer months, when I prefer to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Yes, the research for the book was fairly extensive. Mystery readers are sticklers for detail, and in any kind of book you need to get place names spelled right, and ranks and titles correct. This is especially important as a couple of the characters in the book are historical figures. They’re incidental, but important enough not to just make up any old name. If the information is available, why not use it? Also the physical environment—caves, wildlife, local mythology, are integral to the story.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

At about twenty thousand words, I started to falter a bit. What I do then is to let it sit for a while, and when I can, write as little as two hundred words a day. But at some point I wrote seven hundred words, and I began to feel better about it. But the middle of this one was tough for some reason, possibly due to lack of motivation on my part.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

When I can find vast stretches with no errors, no grammar problems, no spelling mistakes, it’s finished. When I can think of nothing to add, or nothing to object to, no problems with the logical flow, and when I am convinced there is nothing more I can do to make it a better story, then it’s done. The funny thing is, there will always be doubts, and there will always be some insecurity. That’s just what it means to be a writer.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

I moved three times during the writing of the book, as well as cleaning out my father’s house and selling it. There were lots of disruptions and quite a bit of lost sleep.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

I wanted to examine themes of grief, loss and remorse, and the sort of unexpected consequences of our simplest decisions. At the same time, I wanted to get away from preaching, or lecturing, I wanted to examine issues with some sensitivity. It all has to make sense and be entertaining. The bare description sounds daunting enough, especially if the reader isn’t really into dark fiction.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

No. Not really! The problem is that I can’t think of anything better to do with my life.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

The first efforts were pretty amateur, but of course we don’t see that until we learn a lot more about the art and craft of writing. But as a community, this is the right place for me. I didn’t have that before.

How has your background influenced your writing?

It’s impossible to escape our upbringing. Unconscious attitudes can be pretty hard to shake. To recognize and overcome them is to grow.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

A couple of beers helps.

Where can we find out more about your book?

The book is available from Amazon, iTunes, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and a number of other online retailers. Here it is on iTunes: