Born on April 28, 1906, in the Monmartre section of Paris to a shipping-firm manager and a housewife, Pierre Boileau was an accounting student for a time, studying at a Parisian school of commerce, although he became increasingly unhappy with his father’s choice of careers for him. Before he became a writer, he first learned a considerable amount about other people from his work as an architect, a writer of advertising copy, a textile worker, and a restaurant waiter. Writing when he could find time, Boileau eventually wrote several early novels, the third of which, Le Repos de Bacchus, won the 1938 Prix du Roman d’Aventures.
Because he was thought to be an opponent of Nazism, Boileau was made a political prisoner in 1939, just after the German invasion of France. Fortunately for him and for literature, Boileau was not executed or jailed but rather was forced to serve in the French Welfare Department, visiting various penal institutions to talk to inmates. In these institutions, he learned much about crime and the criminal’s way of looking at life; this information would aid him immensely in his creation of crime fiction. After 1942, the year he was freed from his internment, Boileau began to turn to active mystery writing, publishing several well-regarded works.
Thomas Narcejac was born as Pierre Ayraud in 1908 to “a family with a well-established sea-going tradition.” He attended school in Poitiers and later received a...
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