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Baudelaire's Revenge (2014)

by Bob Van Laerhoven(Favorite Author)
3.3 of 5 Votes: 1
1605985481 (ISBN13: 9781605985480)
Pegasus Books
review 1: Let me first warn you - if you’re looking for a light distraction, this is not a novel for you. But if you search for a novel that will make you reflect on life and death, at the same time transporting you into the seething underbelly and the frivolous nobility of Paris in 1870 - besieged by the Prussian army - then this book will undoubtedly thrill you. “Baudelaire’s Revenge” provokes powerful emotions, just as the poet Charles Baudelaire - now world-famous with his collection of poems “The Flowers of Evil” but during his life disregarded - did in 19th-century France. Baudelaire led a tormented, extreme and dramatic life, which is clearly mirrored in this feisty and dark tale, where an act of incest – without father and daughter knowing of their blood ti... moree - is symbolic for the despair, the loss of identity, and the debauchery of that time. Baudelaire adhered to the “Modernists”, a group of artists that wanted to explore – and overstep – every border of bourgeois society. Subtly, but meaningful, the novel also points toward Baudelaire’s syphilis which greatly influenced the poet’s mind during his later years. No wonder that the end of the novel is mind-blowing - the last stage of syphilis produces vivid hallucinations and Van Laerhoven renders them with disturbing intensity. “Baudelaire’s Revenge” can in many ways be seen as a “modern” novel. The manner in which Van Laerhoven describes the ever widening gap between have and have-nots in 19th-century society points to modern times. Commissioner Lefèvre and his assistant Bouveroux still suffer, more than 20 years after the Algerian war in which they were soldiers, from what we nowadays call PTSD (Posttraumatic stress disorder). Although very different in character, their war experiences are the reason why they’re both hooked on death. Isn’t that currently the case for many people in countries where civil war every time seems to regenerate itself? “Baudelaire’s Revenge” is somber but enthralling, vicious but with an undertone of compassion, stylish yet shocking. Reading the novel is a confrontation, but isn’t that what literature should do? Try to give us more insight in the deep and dark recesses of our minds?
review 2: "Baudelaire's Revenge" is in my eyes a true "cross-over" between literature and the mystery novel, mixing thrilling elements and literary history. The narrative, set in besieged Paris during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, is in some places shocking, yet overall subtle, gruesome, yet stylish. There is a social connotation to modern times in the way the author describes the ever-widening gap between the working class, the "nouveau riches" and the aristocracy who indulge in debaucheries while the workers starve. As a whole, the novel is submerged in the "decadent" atmosphere of "Les Fleurs du Mal", the now world-famous collection of poems from Charles Baudelaire, who, although dead for three years when the action starts, plays an important role in this engrossing story. The fin-de-siècle spirit, with its fascination for esotericism, exotic countries, sex and death, is omnipresent in the rich and detailed tale, presenting a convoluted plot that keeps you on the tip of your toes. Different from your "average" mystery, sure, and definitely not a "swimming-pool" novel for it's a story that demands your undiluted attention, but also an outright fascinating read and a tribute to great classical authors,like Poe, Flaubert and Baudelaire, for the thinking reader. less
Reviews (see all)
The Belgian Boris Akunin, for what it's worth. Dark and entertaining.
Unbelievable mystery, flat characters.
Engaging and convoluted.
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