This article proposes a study of contemporary crime writer Maurice Gouiran who, between 2001 and 2010, published a series of detective novels in which the recovery of memory plays a key role. While many of the novels are set in present-day Marseilles, they range far beyond the city. The fact that Gouiran's novels often feature the fortuitous resurgence of memories of a traumatic past event, triggered by a present-day crime, allows him to set his narratives in a range of locations and timeframes. He is particularly interested in memories of war, notably those memories that have been excluded from dominant national narratives of war, and in the ways in which these forgotten episodes can have tragic consequences in the present. Analysis of a selection of Gouiran's novels will draw upon insights from Todorov's essay Les Abus de la mémoire (2004), which reflects on what he calls the 'cult of memory' and in which he posits the key function of memory as an exemplary one through which we learn from the past. While Gouiran's novels participate in the recovery of lost memories, they go beyond remembrance to focus on the ways in which we can and must learn from memories of war.