The Statement

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The sun-drenched landscape of the south of France is the setting of this chilling tale of crime, pursuit, and punishment. Here, almost fifty years before, Pierre Brossard, empowered by the World War II Vichy government, massacred fourteen Jews in the town of Dombey. Since the Allied victory he has been a man on the run, condemned in absentia to death, but protected by friends in the highest offices of the French government and the Church. He has become an artist of escape, moving like a fox through the ...
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Overview

The sun-drenched landscape of the south of France is the setting of this chilling tale of crime, pursuit, and punishment. Here, almost fifty years before, Pierre Brossard, empowered by the World War II Vichy government, massacred fourteen Jews in the town of Dombey. Since the Allied victory he has been a man on the run, condemned in absentia to death, but protected by friends in the highest offices of the French government and the Church. He has become an artist of escape, moving like a fox through the underground maze of monasteries and safe houses, able to turn the tables on those who would deliver a death sentence on him, and to secure fresh sanctuary from those whose ties with him remain as strong and sacred as they are secret. Now, however, time is running out. The chess match against capture that Pierre Brossard has played so skillfully and so long has reached its endgame. His friends are aging, and their fervor is fading. New forces in the government and the Church are unearthing buried war guilts and demanding a reckoning. And even as those who once saved Brossard prepare to set him up as a sacrifice, a vigilante organization of Holocaust avengers sends out their dedicated assassins to take for themselves what French justice has failed to deliver. What Brian Moore has achieved is an extraordinary superimposition of terror and violence upon the picture-postcard image of the cities and towns, abbeys and churches of French Provence and the Riviera, as he tightens the screws of suspense shock by shock. In Brossard, he has succeeded in giving abysmal evil an indelibly human face. And in the figures of both Brossard's protectors and pursuers, he illumines the double-faced nature of loyalty and vengeance, and the no-man's-land that lies between murder and execution.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While Moore's new novel can be called a thriller, it is in fact another of his stunning moral visions of modern life (Lies of Silence; The Colors of Blood) that have marked him as an astute, impassioned chronicler of 20th-century spiritual malaise. Here he has taken inspiration from a real situation, that of a former pro-Nazi Vichy military officer, Maurice Papon, who for four decades evaded punishment for his complicity in WWII crimes against Jews. Moore's antihero is called Pierre Brossard. He is introduced to us as an apparently nervous old man who travels only with a suitcase and a prayer. But he is soon revealed as a ruthless, twisted fascist whose piousness hides a vicious core of bigotry. Under the protection of an intricate web of aging Nazi collaborators and extreme conservatives entrenched in the Catholic Church, he has eluded capture for 44 years. We follow him as a secret terrorist organization attempts to exact final vengeance for his wartime crimes and discover that not one ounce of contrition shadows his mind. A wily and murderous veteran of the game, Brossard eliminates his would-be assassins and re-exposes his case to the world, with shocking results. The chase is riveting, and Moore's exploration of the chilling self-righteousness behind Brossard's reasoning is provocative and disturbing, showing how hatred can spew its own, distorted rationality. In the end, Moore extrapolates from real life a masterful puzzle of spiritual and historical dimensions. (June)
Library Journal
Moore's 18th novel (following No Other Life, LJ 8/93) is the story of Pierre Broussard, a 70-year-old Vichy collaborator now wanted for crimes against humanity. After 40 years of hiding in various French monasteries, Broussard suddenly finds himself chased by both the gendarmerie and assassins. Moore sketches his characters too lightly for the reader to care about them and telegraphs the ending in the first 90 pages, giving the reader little reason to continue. Ultimately, Moore asks for too much suspension of disbelief. Who, for instance, might benefit from the assassination of a 70-year-old Vichy collaborator? Recommended for large popular collections only.-Katherine Holmes, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Kirkus Reviews
A superlative political novel that, like its immediate predecessors, Lies of Silence (1990) and No Other Life (1993), blends the visceral appeal of a beautifully plotted thriller with the more complex pleasures of a thoughtful exploration of conflicting and long-lingering moral quandaries.

"The statement" is an explanatory declaration that is to be pinned to the body of 70-year-old Pierre Brossard, a former officer in the "Milice" that carried out the Vichy government's WW II policy of collaboration with the Nazis, and a known murderer of Jews. This will be done, that is, if Brossard is found first by the underground Jewish group that seeks his death "because they believe he will never be brought to trial," rather than by the officials in the French government who want him captured alive. But Brossard has survived for 40 years on the run, given sanctuary and tacit approval by his country's Catholic Church, and perhaps supported by highly placed collaborators like himself who could no longer be protected should his crimes come to public attention. This brilliant premise is developed with breathtaking skill, as Moore—who has few peers as a lucid explicator of convoluted narrative materials—adroitly shifts his focus among the harried Brossard (as certain of God's forgiveness as he is of his undimmed, murderous anti-Semitism), his various pursuers, and the several clerics, high and low, who have persuaded themselves that "the Church's law of asylum supersedes . . . the laws of the civil authority." The novel's characterizations are deftly etched, its issues are treated with complete fairness, and the suspense is maintained until the last possible moment, when a stunning surprise confronts us on the final page.

Moore here engages Graham Greene and John le Carré on their own ground, producing a haunting, heartpounding literary thriller of which either would be proud. They don't write them any better than this.

From the Publisher
"Masterful... In some ways it is more frightening than a Stephen King novel, because the monsters are not other-worldly... This book goes straight to the bone, punching a hole in the fleshy armor of old politicians and misguided priests and our sentimental faith in justice." -- Vancouver Sun

"Dazzling...Irresistable from the first page." -- The Globe and Mail

"A classic page-turner, fast-paced, riveting, full of terror, tension and a fine play of ideas." -- London Free Press

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452276321
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/28/1997
  • Series: William Abrahams Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Moore was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1921. He served with the Ministry of War in North Africa, Italy, and France during the Second World War. He emigrated to Canada in 1948 and worked as a newspaper reporter for the Montreal Gazette from 1948 until 1952.

While living in Canada, Moore wrote his first three novels, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, The Feast of Lupercal, and The Luck of Ginger Coffey, the first two set in Belfast, the third in Montreal. In 1959 he moved to the United States, but Canada continued to play a role in his later novels, including I Am Mary Dunne, The Great Victorian Collection, and Black Robe. His many honours included two Governor General’s Awards for Fiction.

Brian Moore died in Malibu, California, in 1999.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2004

    See the movie instead!

    Usually a book is much better than the movie that is made from it, but in this case the reverse is true. I was motivated to read the book after I saw the movie, and although the book is good, the movie is far superior. It brings out certain things more and develops the twists in more suspenseful ways. If you have seen the movie, the book will be a disappointment. It ends too abruptly--prematurely, in fact.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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