G476 Book Review of Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven

Name of Book: Baudelaire's Revenge

Author: Bob Van Laerhoven

ISBN: 978-1-60598-548-0

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Type of book: 1870, Paris, Baudelaire, incest, murder, mystery, poetry, disconnect, the Siege of Paris, translation, dark secrets, motives, politically incorrect towards Middle East

Year it was published: 2014


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.


I feel that the most powerful and memorable character of the book is Poupeye. When I read his diary entries, they branded themselves into my mind, and just recalling them now is enough to call up the emotion of nausea. Poupeye is a medium with his own secrets, all of them very bizarre. There are also police detectives who are dealing with their own issues and mentality in trying to track down the killer as well as Claire de la Lune, a prostitute who is involved with one of the policemen and who has her own motives and so forth. In other words, prepare yourself for a ride into a Marilyn Manson music video.


Nothing is what it seems


The story itself is written in third person narrative from many characters' points of views, and few times it was written in first person narrative from the Poupeye's point of view. The story is much darker than the cover, and despair along with misery clings to every word in every page. Also some things weren't explained well, such as LeFevre and his sister, as well as the fairytale that was told about a princess marrying her own father. (Believe it or not, as a kid I did read something similar back in Russia.)

Author Information:
(from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)

Buy the Book

About the AuthorBob Van Laerhoven 2

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.
During the Bosnian war, Van Laerhoven spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later he was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Van Laerhoven was the first writer from the Low Countries to be given the chance to speak to the refugees. His conversations resulted in a travel book: Srebrenica. Getuigen van massamoord – Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder. The book denounces the rape and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. He also concludes that mass murders took place, an idea that was questioned at the time but later proven accurate.
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 Facebookand Twitter.

To be honest, I really struggled with rating this book. How should I rate something that's well written but at the same time caused me nausea with how dark it is, and the fact that it contains incest I wasn't warned about? I'm not a stranger to reading dark stories: I used to love reading Anne Rice's early books where hints of incest, homosexuality and Catholic faith played a huge role in establishing pathos. Earlier on I've also read Inamorata which also contains incest, and I've also read Quick. Yet there is a difference between reading those novels and reading this one: Reading this one is like listening to Marilyn Manson's songs, and reading the previous books is like listening to Linkin Park. Yes, twilight to the blackest of nights. (And there is a difference, trust me.) While the book was well written, what I didn't enjoy was the disconnected writing style, and also, this is not a politically correct novel, at least towards Middle Eastern cultures.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Baudelaire’s Revenge Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 6
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, October 8
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
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
Thursday, October 16
Review at Shelly’s Book Shelves
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
Tuesday, October 21
Spotlight at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, October 22
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, October 23
Review at Bookish
Review at Boom Baby Reviews
Friday, October 24
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Guest Post & Giveaway at Bookish

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


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