* Copy courtesy of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Pegasus Books and Edelweiss *
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.
Here's a fact I didn't know, Charles Baudelaire was a French poet and lived from 1821 to 1867. Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven is essentially a historical fiction crime novel, featuring Commissioner Lefevre and his 'wingman' Bouveroux investigating a spate of murders; the killer leaving snippets of Baudelaire's poetry on the body three years after the poet's death.
Despite the exciting and promising premise, unfortunately Baudelaire's Revenge never really took off for me. My first problem was that there was simply too much character background and research inserted into the novel for little reward or purpose.
Here's an example:
"Her collarbone reminded the commissioner of the willowy skeletons of tiny mammals on exhibit at the city's natural history museum." Page 56
Another reason I didn't enjoy the novel were the frequent and unnecessary references to modern times. The writer goes out of his way to make sure the reader knows that although we're reading a novel set more than 140 years ago, it is an era of new technology and change for the characters.
Here's an example from Page 99:
"The owner of the house had followed the modern trend and built a toilet detached from the rest of the house."
Any lover of historical fiction will know that the characters are at the cutting edge of change and modernity without being reminded, however Van Laerhoven uses the term 'modern' at least 19 times in 268 pages which slowly began to grate on my nerves.
The last sticking point I had was with some of the descriptions, check out this one from page 56:
"...cushions under her belly so that his penis, its head the size of a plump radish, could penetrate..."
Just ridiculous. However in order to balance the criticism, I'd like to share my favourite quote from the novel, which appeared on Page 147:
"I remember its corridors better than the faces of those who walked them."
Baudelaire's Revenge didn't conclude satisfactorily and ultimately was a disappointing read for me. Such a shame.
My rating = **
Please don't take my word for it though.
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About the Author
Bob 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.
|Author Bob Van Laerhoven|
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.
For more information please visit Bob Van Laerhoven's website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.
Baudelaire's Revenge Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, October 6
Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, October 7
Review at Shelly's Book Shelves
Saturday, October 11
Guest Post at The True Book Addict
Monday, October 13
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Tuesday, October 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Booklover Book Reviews
Wednesday, October 15
Guest Post at The Writing Desk
Friday, October 17
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Saturday, October 18
Review at With Her Nose Stick in a Book
Monday, October 20
Review at Carpe Librum
Wednesday, October 22
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, October 23
Review at Bookish
Friday, October 24
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Guest Post & Giveaway at Bookish