Complex, engrossing, story layering . Hercule Poirot Prize winner – 2007
Tense and grim is the Paris that Commissioner Paul LeFèvre inhabits as the Franco-Prussian war carries on in 1870. The atmosphere is a distinct match for his persona as he awaits his return to the grave.
Wounded during a melee in the Franco-Russian war LeFèvre survived by allowing himself to be buried alive in a mass grave. He may have dug himself out but his spirit lingers between this world and the next
His war-time friend and partner Inspector Bernard Bouveroux is the true investigator in this story. While LeFèvre broods and ruminates, Bouveroux researches and ponders for answers as upon this seething backdrop we find a killer.
A killer who leaves with his victims, lines of work from the deceased poet Charles Baudelaire whose dark, controversial writings was at times supressed by the courts. What is the connection of these victims to each other, to the killer and to Baudelaire?
The answers of course lie in Bob Van Laerhoven’s deftly crafted storyline. There are times that you will flinch as the poverty and practices of this city under siege are quite grim. Overall, we should be very happy that it was translated into English this year.
~ June Lorraine
With thanks to Bob who contacted me directly and Pegasus Books US for the DRC in exchange for a fair review.