Pascal Lagesse has recently published his book “John Berik: Detektiv pou ti-dimounn – Cabri, c’est fini !”. It’s a fiction loaded with humour and plenty of local colours. Though the novel is in French, the author has punctuated it with several Kreol expressions, including swear words from the local folklore. John Berik, the main character in the novel, is assigned the task to investigate on the mysterious disappearance of goats [cabri] in the village of Gokoola and its neighbouring area. The original name of John Berik was Jean Berik, but he had to swap “Jean” for “John”. Probably, the change was necessary [though the author does not give the reason] because it could be interpreted as “Zanberik” – a type of mung bean which is very popular in ‘lakwizinn Morisien’ and which is relished by ‘cabri’.
Though the tone and mood in the novel is generally light and entertaining, the detective finds himself in an odd situation because immediately after he undertakes to investigate into the affair of his client Deewantee, the one who is the victim of theft of goats, the latter gets eliminated by the blast of a gas-cylinder in her kitchen. John Berik suspects it to be a foul play. Deewantee had travelled all the way from her village of Gokoola to meet Jean Berik in his office at Vacoas. She entrusted the case to private detective Jean Berik because she did not trust the police. But the detective has a poor notion of the geography of Mauritius and, had it not been for his driver, he would not have located Gokoola.
John Berik seems to be an old fashioned man who does not know how to handle a computer and make use of information technology. He does not have a mobile phone. He relies on his notebook for recording his points. He has an antique car of Vauxhall model, which he does not drive but relies on his driver Gordon to take care of it. John is assisted in the investigation by his University friend Charles-Francois Barbeuse de Chambly who is very fond of his ancestral genealogy. There are funny situations such as, John’s gardener Ramdass talks to him by hiding behind “une touffe des chouchous” [Missie John, fer koumadir ou pa trouv mwa, pa get mwa, get pie mang……Ou bizin fer enn demars aste inpe pwazon kourpa pou mwa]. This is done against the will and without the knowledge of Maud, the nagging old Mum of John, who always locks herself in her room but keeps strict surveillance on everything happening around her and especially to her bio-garden. To the surprise of John, his old Mum would wake up in the middle of the night and poke her nose in the store of Ramdass, her bête noire, and gets hold of pwazon kourpa.
But how and where the goats have disappeared? That’s the initial point of John Berik’s enquiry. The findings of John’s research rule out any possibility that the stolen goats might have been diverted to the regular meat market or being sold to satisfy the high demand for qurbani in the context of Eid el Adha. Then, what could have been the real fate of the stolen goats? A mysterious shepherd by the name of Idriss Angedor, who has a sheep farm in Grand Port, comes to meet the detective at a Chinese restaurant in Port Louis and gives him a clue that he had heard the kidnappers of animals speaking a strange language: “Enn langaz ki resamble sinwa, me pa vreman sinwa”. Rocambolesque as it may appear, the farcical detective goes on a secret mission to uncover the theft of “cabri” and he finally lands into a cavern of incredible and mysterious KKK that has the forceful potential to blow both the body and mind in the air. For those who want to know more about the universe of the detective John Berik, they are recommended to dip into a good reading of the book. Congratulations Pascal Lagesse!