This article analyzes the return of the past in three of Marseille-based crime novelist Maurice Gouiran’s novels: La Porte des Orients perdus (2004), Et l’été finira (2012), and Les vrais durs meurent aussi (2015). Lead investigator Clovis Narigou travels far and wide in his quests to solve the murders of those in his community, and he frequently includes pedagogical asides to educate readers on the historical contexts that brought these victims to Marseille. In the three novels considered here, Narigou investigates Marseille’s historical relationship to the French Empire and how the end of this era continues to resonate in Marseille. As he emphasizes, past injustices continue to shape the present and can only be resolved through recognition and acknowledgement of earlier traumas. In these novels readers see the power of the polar genre both to uncover Marseille’s unique history regarding population migration and mobility and to propose an alternative, inclusive social model.