"As the social and political turbulence of the Franco-Prussian War roils [1870 Paris], workers starve to death while aristocrats seek refuge in orgies and sâeances. 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"--Dust jacket flap. - (Baker & Taylor)
During the social and political upheaval in 1870s Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, Commissioner Lefáevre investigates a string of grisly murders in which the victims are all found with a copy of Charles Baudelaire's poetry book "Les Fleurs du Mal." - (Baker & Taylor)
During the social and political upheaval in 1870s Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, Commissioner Lefèvre investigates a string of grisly murders in which the victims are all found with a copy of Charles Baudelaire's poetry book Les Fleurs du Mal. 15,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
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. - (WW Norton)
Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Crime Novel - (WW Norton)
Paris police commissioner Paul Lefèvre, robust and hirsute, hardly seems like a poetry lover. Nonetheless, he instantly recognizes the messages accompanying murder victims killed in flamboyant ways as excerpts from poems by the scandalous, recently deceased poet Baudelaire. Is this gruesomely inventive serial killer exacting revenge on Baudelaire's enemies? Paris is in an uproar in 1870. The Franco-Prussian War is on full boil, the poor are hungry and insurrectional, and the decadent rich are partying. As Lefèvre and longtime comrade Inspector Bernard Bouveroux—they served together as soldiers in Algiers—seek to stop this diabolical, perhaps otherwordly serial killer, the philosophical Lefèvre is haunted by traumatic memories of war and a childhood abomination. He is also longing for his sharp-witted beloved, the now-missing prostitute Claire de la Lune. In this superbly crafted Hercule Poirot Prize–winning mystery, Dutch writer Van Laerhoven vividly and astutely evokes a city under siege and keenly portrays the complex and controversial Baudelaire. But he also constructs a wildly convoluted and sexually explicit gothic tale of monstrous urges and violently broken taboos. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
It's 1870 and the Prussians are massing along the French border. The poor are starving in Paris and revolutionaries are stockpiling arms. And a few men die in the most exotic ways—strange poisons, mutilations. Placed on each body is a verse from Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal apparently written in the deceased poet's hand. Trying to bury a savage tragedy of his own, Police Commissioner Lefevre investigates. Published for the first time in English, this roman policier isn't so much a straight detective story (although there are two detectives in it) as an evocation of a mind-set that now seems extravagant: the 19th-century poet's fascination with sex and death. It's no wonder this title won the Hercule Poirot Prize: the author is Belgian, as is the prize, and the twisted plot is as complicated as Agatha Christie's most convoluted mystery. VERDICT Mystery aficionados will love this pastiche of Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allan Poe but may have to suspend their skepticism while reading it.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
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