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Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Crime Novel - Winner of the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category Fiction: mystery/suspense
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.
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I've always loved Baudelaire's poetry. The man himself was a wreck, haunted by sadomasochistic tendencies, but his writing was ingenious. I was eighteen when I discovered Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) and from that time on, I always wanted to write a novel about Charles Baudelaire and his poetry. I had to wait decades before I was able to do that. I wanted to compose a true cross-over between literature and the mystery genre. When I was working on Baudelaire's Revenge, I had the feeling that, although this was my first historical novel, set in the nineteenth century in Paris, I was commenting on present-day times. In 1870, the chasm between have's and have not's in France was so wide that it resulted in a bloody civil war. In our time, we see the same gap between rich and poor growing bigger each minute. Playwright and author Hubert O' Hearn put it forcefully in his review about Baudelaire's Revenge in the San Diego Book Review: Here's the thing about murder mysteries:they are either intricate Chinese puzzles that delve deep into the darkestshadows of decayed human souls, or they're utter shit whose authors andpublishers should be lynched for paper abuse. Baudelaire'sRevenge notonly is in the former, better class, it is that truly rare species of a trulyliterary murder mystery (....)It has long been my suspicion that when asocially and politically clued-in writer sets his narrative in the past, it isbecause she or he actually intends to reveal the present while avoiding theturgid mud of active political discussion with all its on-going Presidents,organizations, media and headlines. Nothing ages quite so quickly as a novelset in the present day.(....) The past exhibits a far more provocativeanalysis of the present than the actual present can ever hope to achieve.About the Author:
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 novel Baudelaire’s Revenge, now available in English for the first time. Visit his website at www.bobvanlaerhoven.be.
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