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FREE ç Bed of Nails ¿ It s as if he s being mocked from beyond the grave When John Nichols arrives to identify the body of an old friend, he is immediately caught up in the detritus of Alan Musgrave s life, the side of Paris the tourists don t see, where everyone has a past but very few count on a future But what can he expect from a man who bled to death in his own excruciating SM stage show Now there s a maverick police lieutenant on the prowl who thinks that Musgrave s suicide was murder Gu rin might not look like much, but he s one of the few honest officers on the force As the horrific extent of police abuse is revealed, the race is on to find the link between a slew of recent suicides and the key to it is buried deep in Nichols s past Bed of Nails does for Paris what James Ellroy did for vintage America, shining a light as never before on the seedy underbelly of La Ville Lumin re This is a great one Very dark, very sad, but funny in the right places, deeply touching, ultimately heart wrenching Difficult too The underlying theme is complex Through a bleak cop story set mainly in Paris in the present, the author seeks to understand the role and soul of the torturer as war s most potent and poisonous weapon What kind of human ends up in this role, and how Where must such a corrupted human logically end, regardless of the righteous cause This aspect of the book is l This is a great one Very dark, very sad, but funny in the right places, deeply touching, ultimately heart wrenching Difficult too The underlying theme is complex Through a bleak cop story set mainly in Paris in the present, the author seeks to understand the role and soul of the torturer as war s most potent and poisonous weapon What kind of human ends up in this role, and how Where must such a corrupted human logically end, regardless of the righteous cause This aspect of the book is lucid, painfully relevant and well written but I still to read those passagesthan once.There are two protagonists three, if you count a dean man who can t speak but is vividly present Inspector Richard Guerin is an eccentric outcast amongst the ranks at 36 Quai des Orfevres the central police building in Paris, and Ministry of Interior police HQ for all of France He has been put in charge of investigating suicides His squad consists of himself and Lambert, a naive but loyal assistant As the story begins with an incredibly horrific scene we understand Guerin s assignment is a punishment But for what We won t know till near the end.John Nichols is an American from California living in a tent in the southwest on a piece of land inherited from his French born hippie mother Nichols is a PhD in Psychology who has turned his back on the world But when he receives word from the US embassy in Paris that John Mustgrave has died an apparent suicide he heads back into civilization to officially identify his old friend s body and take care of the paper work involved in sending him home to Kansas.Mustgrave is revealed as a broken American character Blame it on his role in the US military as a CIA trained torturer His apparent suicide during a bizarre SM performance in a murky Paris nightclub is suspicious Nichols, who focused his abandoned research on Mustgrave, seeks to knowThe corruption within the murder squad at 36 Quai des Orfevres which Guerin has been quietly laboring to prove is equally strange and leads to the same SM club Sunny, hippie strewn California Deeply American Kansas The back streets of Paris, where dark sub cultures, exiles in hiding, criminals and cops of all stripes interconnect In themselves these locations point in the direction of a police novel that is also a morality tale enacted on an Uber level With slow, tragic inevitability the separate paths of a grimly dreamy French cop and two burned out Americans one live, one dead cross.5 stars I would call this a poetic police story of the highest order The only French reference I can give which might resonate is that Bed of Nails is translated by Sian Reynolds, who does such a great job with the voice and tone of huge star Fred Vargas I am happy to have found this book There is one other listed translated thriller by Antonin Varenne Loser s Corner I will look for it I was searching for the book about the making of Blade Runner Future Noir on my library catalogue and this strange little existential French noir popped up in the search results No question I was just going to read it immediately, science fiction noir can be a rich vein of the classic storytelling tropes in new and interesting environments afterall.Except this is not the future, this is not science fiction and the idiot librarian who catalogued this book has clearly made a mistake Not that I was searching for the book about the making of Blade Runner Future Noir on my library catalogue and this strange little existential French noir popped up in the search results No question I was just going to read it immediately, science fiction noir can be a rich vein of the classic storytelling tropes in new and interesting environments afterall.Except this is not the future, this is not science fiction and the idiot librarian who catalogued this book has clearly made a mistake Not that I m complaining as Antonin Varenne s deconstruction of some of the classic obsessive detective full of quirks and foibles was one of the most interesting and different novels I ve read in quite some time At least before it became just another excuse to use the CIA as the bad guys, at which point it all became very obvious But much like the great films of the French Poetic Realism movement style tendency Varenne was largely concerned with characters living on he edges of society and offers a fatalistic view of life Defeat clutched from the jaws of victory sort of stuff.His detective, much like Dirk Gently meets Columbo, is a mess of a man, dedicated to his profession and his scruffy mack, believes in the interconnectedness of all things and that this Big Theory can solve everything Naturally he s a pariah in a modern, aggressive, metropolitan police force He s investigating suicides that he believes are a series of murders and that s what leads him to the secondary protagonist s storyline classic crime novel trope ahoy an American dropout living in the woods in rural France who is informed that his best friend has just committed suicide during his SM club skin piercing stage act With a few other interesting major supporting characters thrown in Varenne leads you on an interesting investigation that threatens to be one thing then becomes another, and the whole thing is full of philosophical pondering, complex characterisation and bleak scenarios I m a big fan I have not read a crime thriller as utterly compelling and emotionally powerful as Bed of Nails for many years and, having been promised a unique crime reading experience by those lucky enough to have read this before publication, I would implore that you seek this out and prepare for an unparallelled master class in crime writing A novel that metaphorically slaps you round the face from the opening scene of a harrowing suicide and a plot that continues to pummel the reader s senses throughou I have not read a crime thriller as utterly compelling and emotionally powerful as Bed of Nails for many years and, having been promised a unique crime reading experience by those lucky enough to have read this before publication, I would implore that you seek this out and prepare for an unparallelled master class in crime writing A novel that metaphorically slaps you round the face from the opening scene of a harrowing suicide and a plot that continues to pummel the reader s senses throughout, plunging you unreservedly into the seedy underbelly of Parisian life, police and foreign diplomatic corruption and a twisting thriller peopled by a cast of beguiling and emotionally flawed but totally engaging characters Being reluctant to divulge any further details of the plot, I would say that this a novel that is best approached from another angle entirely and for the following reasons There s that awful reviewer s cliche that this is a book that stays with you long after the final page is turned but I would absolutely endorse this statement in relation to this novel The ending is so emotionally bleak for all the main protagonists, but you have engaged with them so much during the course of the book, gravitating between moments of violence to tenuous but touching interludes of human connection that it genuinely strikes a powerful chord As the denouement unfolds with such devastating consequences for the characters , there is a calm and understated depiction of human frailty In the death of one character in particular, whose violent end is tinged with a moment of complete serenity, there is a beautifully wrought and succinct juxtaposition with a solitary image that is wholly resonant of the natural world With assured vignettes like this at absolutely the right moments, the manipulation of language to suit the change of tempo and tone in the plot, and the deeper philosophical context, this crime novel just draws you in and adds to your sense of this beingthan a thriller, but a literary exploration of the boundaries of mainstream crime writing Simply wonderful Varenne has conjured up a group of odd characters in this dark, quirky and philosophical story Guerin is the police headquarters chief suicide investigator and is piecing together links between recent suicides that forms the plot for the early part of the novel at least His parrot abuses his visitors at home, and his sidekick, Lambert, is unpopular with his other colleagues and an outsider The parallel storyline is of an ex American diplomat living off the grid in rural France who is in Pari Varenne has conjured up a group of odd characters in this dark, quirky and philosophical story Guerin is the police headquarters chief suicide investigator and is piecing together links between recent suicides that forms the plot for the early part of the novel at least His parrot abuses his visitors at home, and his sidekick, Lambert, is unpopular with his other colleagues and an outsider The parallel storyline is of an ex American diplomat living off the grid in rural France who is in Paris after the death of an old friend, an ex Marine with PTSD who last work was in an S and M bar as a torture artist Few things are as they seem and this is certainly not a straightforward detective story The stories within the story are a feature of the novel, and it is therefore best approached in a different way by the reader It falls between the noir and literary genres, it s philosophical aspects meeting with the emotional bleakness of the characters and the seedy underbelly Of Parisian life