Baudelaire's Revenge: A Novel by Bob Van Laerhoven
"A decadent tale. Commissioner Lefevre's philosophical discussions with artists and poets and a creepy Belgian dwarf are fascinating."Marilyn Stasio,The New York Times Book Review It is 1870, and Paris is in turmoil. As the social and political turbulence of the Franco-Prussian War roils the city, workers starve to death while aristocrats seek refuge in orgies and séances. The Parisians are trapped like rats in their beautiful city but a series of gruesome murders captures their fascination and distracts them from the realities of war. The killer leaves lines from the recently deceased Charles Baudelaire’s controversial anthology Les Fleurs du Mal on each corpse, written in the poet’s exact handwriting. Commissioner Lefevre, a lover of poetry and a veteran of the Algerian war, is on the case, and his investigation is a thrilling, intoxicating journey into the sinister side of human nature, bringing to mind the brooding and tense atmosphere of Patrick Susskind’s Perfume. Did Baudelaire rise from the grave? Did he truly die in the first place? The plot dramatically appears to extend as far as the court of the Emperor Napoleon III. A vivid, intelligent, and intense historical crime novel that offers up some shocking revelations about sexual mores in 19th century France, this superb mystery illuminates the shadow life of one of the greatest names in poetry.
Bob Van Laerhoven has written more than thirty books in Holland and Belgium. Bob has become known for his colorful, kaleidoscopic novels in which the fate of the individual is closely related to broad social transformations. He won the Hercule Poirot Prize in 2007 for his novelBaudelaire’s Revenge, now available in English for the first time.Visit his website at www.bobvanlaerhoven.be.
Baudelaire's Revenge 4 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
I READ MOST OF THIS BOOK WITH MY EYES REALLY REALLY WIDE OPEN. I WAS WOWED BY THE DEPTH OF THIS BOOK, SO
YES THAT IS YOUR WARNING, IF YOUR LOOKING FOR A BREEZE THROUGH READ THIS IS NOT THE BOOK FOR YOU IT WILL
WORK THOSE LITTLE GREY CELLS IN THE BRAIN, SOME OF IT IS KEEPING UP WITH EVERYTHING THAT IS GOING ON WITH A
PRETTY LARGE CAST OF CHARACTERS AND THEN THERE IS THE INTELLECTUAL PROSE THAT UNRAVELS A BIZARRE YET
INTRIGUING TALE. I WILL NOT GIVE ANYTHING ELSE AWAY BUT IF YOU MISS ALL THE GREAT MYSTERY WRITERS LIKE CHRISTIE
AND DOYLE WHO CHALLENGE YOU TO ACTUALLY THINK ABOUT WHAT IT IS THAT YOUR READING THEN DEFINITELY PICK UP
More than 1 year ago
Plunge into Baudelaire's world!
Commissioner Paul Lefèvre, 53, loves poems by Baudelaire, considered “one of France’s greatest men of letters, a mere three years after his death” (page 2).
Lefèvre also enjoys meeting with “wenches”. One day, he hears a scream from a bordello and finds a corpse. Near the body, bearing the tattoo of a mythical animal on the left wrist, is a passage by Baudelaire, apparently written in the poet’s handwriting. But can a dead poet come back to life to kill? As Lefèvre starts his inquiry, he discovers other murders, and they all have in common mysterious lines by Baudelaire… Lefèvre gets progressively involved in all kinds of crazy events, until he gets the shocking revelation of what really happened and who did it.
There are great passages from Baudelaire’s poems interspersed, and lots of elements on his sick psyche, his drug taking, his family, also the tough competition between young poets.
The historical context with Napoleon III, the Prussian War, and later on La Commune, is wonderfully recreated. The general disdain and hatred towards Napoleon are also clearly conveyed.
The emperor was a simpleton with an inflated ego, who was determined t lead France into a war it could never win. p.10
The atmosphere of Paris, with its catacombs, its dirt, its hunger and despair, is so real you would not want to go out by night in Paris if you were there as you read the book!
The sky above Paris was restless and darker than the cloak of a servant girl waiting in a doorway for her lover. p.18
The book starts like a regular mystery, and then it relentlessly plunges and drags you into Baudelaire’s world.
The writing is incredibly good, the suspense of the main plots and sub-plots will not let you sleep. And I have rarely read a book that manages so well to drag you down to the depth of its darkness. Definitely not unlike Baudelaire’s Les fleurs du mal, and in that sense this is a real tour de force. I understand why it would have received the prestigious Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Crime Novel.
VERDICT: In this super atmospheric historical mystery, you will have the opportunity to meet Baudelaire’s world and spirit. Beware!, it was a world of pure madness, of insane fantasy, of sick eroticism. Following very suspenseful plots, you will discover a shocking world superbly re-crafted for you.
More than 1 year ago
Copy received from Historical Fiction Virtual Tours for an honest opinion
I have to confess I did not know who the killer was!!! I thought I knew but I was completely wrong! I really enjoyed this book and thought that the story-line was incredibly well played out. The two leading characters, Commissioner Lefevre and Bouveroux, were not the pillar's of priority or the most commendable characters. They both seemed very unfeeling and at times removed but it thought that that added to the uneasy feeling surrounding the story. There is a killer on the lose and this killer leaves passages from Baudelaire in the aftermath of the killings. I also really appreciated how the author was able to show the societal inequalities that were very much a big part of Paris during this time. I usually try to stay away from translations because I think that they sometimes can't capture the cultural nuisances in the translated language but this text didn't not suffer from that. I would not consider this a light story. It is dark and eerie but it was very satisfying. I really enjoyed and highly recommend this historical mystery!
More than 1 year ago
Welcome to Paris, and a world famous poet, as you never envisioned them before. It’s 1870 and Bob Van Laerhoven’s Baudelaire’s Revenge grabs you from page one as you’re caught up in the suspense of catching a mysterious serial killer who’s leaving clues … lines of Baudelaire’s poetry on the bodies of his victims. The police commissioner, Paul Lefevre, tries to stop the diabolical killer, but Lefevre quickly finds himself haunted by his own diabolical memories. The story takes you though a war-terrified Paris in which ordinary people are starving as the wealthy remain detached. Bob Van Laerhoven blends rich history detail, murder and sexually titillating compulsions with a celebrated poet. Baudelaire’s Revenge keeps you turning pages well into the sexy spooky night. This is five-star suspense.
Make that six!
Mike Brogan, novelist
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