Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Review of Bed of Nails by Antonin Varenne (MacLehose, 2012, French 2009)
Bed of Nails is somewhat of a curious book - a police procedural that doesn’t easily fit the genre, with a misfit, and at times almost cartoonish, lead character. The plot is quite complex, weaving together different strands, which veers towards being opaque on occasion; it not always clear quite how Guérin is fitting his clues together or what exactly is going on. As a result, the first half of the book was interesting, but was not compelling. In the second half, the narrative becomes more engaging, and in the last quarter shifted gear into a different register which recast the whole story. The closing pages in particular were an emotional rollercoaster as Varenne provides a thoroughly noir ending to the story; one that opened up a number of questions about morality and just rewards. Overall, a dark, quirky tale that progressively became more gripping, noirish and philosophical.