The Obit Man

Written by Fred Langan
Review by Juliet Waldron

In 1944, sixty French-speaking Canadians were sent to Occupied France as part of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Their tasks included training resistance fighters, sabotaging German transport trains, and assassinating Nazi Officers. Of the sixty who parachuted into occupied France, only fifteen survived. The story alternates between the POV of the Obit man (journalist-writer of obituaries) and his heroic World War II subject, the recently deceased Captain Henry Foix. The author writes about what he (as the modern narrator) knows, for Mr. Langan is a print and television journalist, and an anchor for CBC business news. The Obit Man gives us an interesting inside look at the world of the journalist of the late 1980s. The chapters dealing with the war and the shadow world of the SOE are stronger, the stuff of film noir. The Obit Man poses a question as topical now as it was fifty years ago. What action, during the horror of war and foreign occupation, constitutes “atrocity”?