First published in France in 1958 and winner of the prestigious Prix Medecis, The Mise-en-Scène takes place in the mountains of Morocco when the French still controlled North Africa. An engineer named Lassalle has been sent from France to plan a road through the mountains. Although Lassalle seems to be successful, he finds out that another engineer, Lessing, has preceded him, and that Lessing, as well as others, may have been murdered.
The novel is a detailed inquiry into the meaning of actions and the impossibility of determining what happens. Lassalle prepares to return home uncertain of whether what he has witnessed is a series of coincidences or part of a sinister plan to keep him ignorant. His uncertainty is shared by the reader, who is kept guessing and wondering at what he thinks he knows but cannot be sure of.
In part a detective novel and in part an investigation into the nature of knowledge, The Mise-en-Scène is controlled by a tone and style that are truly remarkable.