Bob Van Laerhoven
April 15, 2014
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"For those who like historical crime novels with a twist . . ."
Baudelaire's Revenge plunges the reader into the sordid world of Paris in the final months of the Second Empire, 1852-1870. Police officers and old army comrades, Paul Lefèvre and Bernard Bouveroux, seek a sadistic mass-murderer obsessed with the late controversial poet Charles Baudelaire. The chase takes them between the glittering salons of high society to the desperate slums of the poor. Disturbing links to the decaying court of Emperor Napoleon III and Lefèvre's own life surface as he discovers the murderer may be closer to hand than expected.
The first murder victim, an artist, is found in a brothel with a scrap of paper with fragments of a Baudelaire poem scribbled upon it. The second victim, an author recently returned from the French colonies, is hideously mutilated in an attempt to change his gender. He is found in the Paris catacombs with a poem by Baudelaire on his body. The third victim is a magistrate who had fined Baudelaire for blasphemous writing. His body is found on Baudelaire’s grave in Montparnasse Cemetery, and this time a poem is written on the sole of the dead man’s left foot. Who on earth could be avenging Baudelaire’s death in such a fiendish manner? Lefèvre decides to visit the late poet’s mother on the coast where he has an odd encounter with a Dutch artist and a diminutive Belgian salesman who isn’t all he appears to be.
For those who like historical crime novels with a twist, Baudelaire's Revenge is a literary mystery that trawls through the unsavory side of human nature.
Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews