Thursday 20 April 2017



A crime writer uses the modest advance on his latest novel to rent a house on the Normandy coast. 

There should be little to distract him from his work besides walks on the windswept beach, but as he begins to tell the tale of forty-something Louis – who, after dispatching his own mother, goes on to relieve others of their burdensome elderly relations – events in his own life begin to overlap with the work of his imagination.

Another read from Garnier, my fourth in total and whilst enjoyable not quite up there with the others.

Kind of a dual narrative here - or book within a book. A crime author called Louis is writing a book about his protagonist also called Louis. We spend time in the company of both.

Our author, has isolated himself from his girlfriend in the hope of making some progress on his book, but is distracted by his girlfriend's daughter, his neighbours, an impending trip to England and by his friend Christophe.

I've always been jealous of Christophe......He lives, I bluff: he's a magician, I'm a con artist; he touches, I manipulate. I can't think of him without comparing myself to him. The fact of the matter is he has always put the spotlight on my own mediocrity.

Our fictional Louis is meanwhile doing his bit for population control while similarly improving the financial situations of himself, his ex-wife and her husband and the family of a friend.

I found the writer - Louis annoying and much preferred the company of the other one, though he is hardly likeable. Maybe he was just more interesting to read about.

There is a kind of symmetry to the novel - art imitating art, as the story of our fictional Louis ends and writer Louis mimics his creation albeit somewhat accidentally.

Garnier, as ever has some fantastic turns of phrase......

His mouth flares open like an old hen's arsehole, but very little comes out....

If he was a used car, he'd be unsellable...

A quick read at about 160 pages. Enjoyable but not his best.

3.5 from 5

Pascal Garnier passed in 2010. Gallic Books have been offering his books in translation since 2012.

The Front Seat Passenger, Boxes and The Islanders have all been enjoyed previously.

Read in April, 2017
Published - 2016 (originally 2006 in French)
Page count - 160
Source - Gallic Books
Format - paperback


  1. That story-within-a-story structure can work really well if it's done effectively, Col. But I know what you mean about liking one of the stories more than the other. I'm glad you found things to like about this one, and, hey, Garnier's good even when not at his best.

    1. Margot, I did enjoy it and it was a quick read. It just wasn't as amazing as he has been previously. Still very good though, just not especially memorable.

  2. This sounds kind of dark and distorted, Col.

  3. I have a different Garnier on the pile for my own near future. The Eskimo Solution sounds right up my street, so it's been added to the interminable list of books for further down the line . . .

    1. I'll keep an eye out for whichever one it is. I like the fact that he tells his tales in less than 200 pages - less is more for me! I was unaware of him, until Gallic Books started translating his ouevre. Apparently there's another one later thsi year - that'll be 10 in total!

  4. Another author I have not tried yet. I think Glen has one by him, but not this one.

    1. Tracy, I think you might like Garnier if you do get to him.

  5. I've read about him on your blog and others, and keep meaning to get round to bim...

    1. *get round to HIM (as I think you would guess)

    2. He is well worth a look and his books aren't very long at all.