Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven
Publication date: April 15, 2014 by Pegasus Books
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest 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 seances. 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.
How to describe Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven? Let's start by saying that this isn't your average, garden-variety mystery novel. This is something quite different. Van Laerhoven has created a deeply dark, foreboding, squalid, deceptive and completely unfriendly vision of Paris in 1870.This is not a place you would want to walk around in during the day, much less at night - which is when much of the story takes place. But the thing is, the descriptions are such that it is almost impossible to stop reading. This dark story did draw me in -- with dread and foreboding, but I continued on.
I found none of the characters to be all that empathetic and certainly not trustworthy - and yet, I was compelled to continue reading. Unreliable narrators abound in this tale. It became quite an interesting experience - wondering if I would ever find out the truth. And then, whose truth would it be?
While it seems a little unfair to drag Baudelaire into the mire that is this Paris, since he did such a wonderful job of that all on his own, I have to admit that his poetry is a perfect fit for the atmosphere of this book.
Baudelaire's Revenge presents a dark and grim vision of the world and of humanity. I can't say that everyone would enjoy it, but if you like very dark, gothic mysteries, this may be what you are looking for. Be warned, there is explicit content. I found the book to be dark and disturbing, but ultimately, the mysteries kept me glued to the book to the end.
About the AuthorBob Van Laerhoven became a full-time author in 1991 and has written more than thirty books in Holland and Belgium. The context of his stories isn’t invented behind his desk, rather it is rooted in personal experience. As a freelance travel writer, for example, he explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from the early 1990s to 2005. Echoes of his experiences on the road also trickle through in his novels. Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar… to name but a few.
During the Bosnian war, Van Laerhoven spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later he was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Van Laerhoven was the first writer from the Low Countries to be given the chance to speak to the refugees. His conversations resulted in a travel book: Srebrenica. Getuigen van massamoord – Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder. The book denounces the rape and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. He also concludes that mass murders took place, an idea that was questioned at the time but later proven accurate.
All these experiences contribute to Bob Van Laerhoven’s rich and commendable oeuvre, an oeuvre that typifies him as the versatile author of novels, travel stories, books for young adults, theatre pieces, biographies, poetry, non-fiction, letters, columns, articles… He is also a prize-winning author: in 2007 he won the Hercule Poirot Prize for best thriller of the year with his novel De Wraak van Baudelaire – Baudelaire’s Revenge.
Virtual Book Tour ScheduleMonday, June 9
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, June 10
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Thursday, June 12
Review & Giveaway at Words & Peace
Monday, June 16
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, June 17
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, June 18
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Thursday, June 19
Review at A Bookish Girl
Review at Turning the Pages
Friday, June 20
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Girl
Monday, June 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Interview at Layered Pages
Tuesday, June 24
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, June 25
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day
Thursday, June 26
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch
Friday, June 27
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Monday, June 30
Review at Reading the Past
Tuesday, July 1
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, July 2
Review at Layers of Thought
Spotlight & Giveaway at Books and Movies
Thursday, July 3
Review at Impressions in Ink
Review, Interview, and Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Feature & Giveaway at bookworm2bookworm’s Blog