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4.1 out of 5 stars
Dial M For Merde
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2009
I have completed the series and equally enjoyed each novel in the series. Dial for Merde is another enjoyable read that fills you with endless laughter. The scenery featured in the plot is new and stunning. Previous novels explore the romantic and beautiful city of Paris, but the latest one takes the reader on a delightful journey to the beautiful region of Southern France. This is an area well renowned for its magnificant beaches, islands and some of finest and exquisite French cuisine to taste.

Paul West is the main star of the story. The character never really disappoints readers, as he amuses us with mad adventures . The amusement continues in the fourth instalment with the acquaintance of grand family residing in chateaux, meeting eccentric French folks, chasing after French Mademoiselles, landing in trouble with authorities and wedding fiascos. No wonder the novel is titled merde with all these mishaps. He comes across such as a great and memorable character.

The satirical humour and sparkling characters stand out really well. A new setting sounds a great idea and well appreciated, as it shows different regions of France to appreciate for its beauty. The author is justified to experiment with new ideas as it offers new insights about the French culture. The rivalry between France and England is explored in a hilarious context. The jokes are so funny, as there are misperceptions between each other.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I recently found this buried at the bottom of a storage box along with books that I was going to give away. Having enjoyed both `A Year in the Merde' and `Merde Happens' (`Merde Actually' was okay but didn't really grab my attention) I thought I'd read it again thinking surely it couldn't be the total pile of `merde' I thought it was originally.

God, was I wrong! It's now been consigned to the storage again as it would be unfair to inflict this on anyone else. It is like the painful final part of a series, which like the two films mentioned above should NOT have seen the light of day.

You may think reading this that I'm going to go off on some sarcastic rant but the truth is he's an amusing writer and I really liked the first three in this series. So when I say, I wouldn't want anyone to read this I honestly believe that if they read this first, they wouldn't touch the first three. If you have read the first three then I'd strongly recommend you cut your losses now.

I don't know what happened here. Publishing deadline or something? But it was just so unbelievable it was embarrassing. Spoiler alert: Elodie want to marry some coke-head whose family are old school French with more money than Bill Gates so of course, let's make sure the caterer is English who runs a crappy little tea room in Paris. And he hooks up with a beautiful Marine Biologist who's hell-bent on assassinating the French President. Makes perfect sense!

The rest is some self-indulgent fantasy along the lines of, "I know! I'll turn `Pol Wess' into a James Bond type character and set it in the South of France! That'll be good for a few laugh out loud hilariously wacky japes, scrapes and jams!"

Also a lot of the draw of the first novels was that Stephen Clarke was NOT Peter Mayle. Unfortunately some weird metamorphosis has taken place and he now thinks it's riveting for the reader to listen to him banging on endlessly and drooling over truffles, anchovies and other fresh organic French produce.

I know this is a harsh review. I wish it wasn't as almost much everything else he's written was amusing and nicely done and I'd urge anyone reading this to buy them. It's just this was unbelievably painful to read. Honestly, if you've read the first three then stop there. You'll thank me for it as to be honest, it bored me merdeless!
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2009
A few years ago, Stephen Clarke hit gold with his "A year in the merde", and I was one of the many readers who enjoyed it. Yes, Clarke was the 483rd author to write the same book: young Englishman goes to France and finds that all hot French girls adore young Englishmen. Not true, but it makes for good reading while allowing young guys to dream about it. While Peter Mayle had already written far too many books on the same subject, Clarke took it one step further by being a lot more juicy and funny than others had been before.

Since then, Clarke has written three more books about Paul West and by now, the freshness is long gone. Book 1 was about the culture differences between the English and the French, Paul West, and a lot of hot French girls. Book 2 was about the culture differences between the English and the French, Paul West, and a lot of hot French girls. Book 3 was about the culture differences between the English, the Americans and the French, Paul West, and a lot of hot French girls. It will come as no surprise that this book is about the culture differences between the English and the French, Paul West, and a lot of hot French girls.

In this book, you'll get Paul, Elodie, her dad and some new French girls. All of them are of course hot and all of them adore Paul. Didn't see that one coming...

If you disliked the first book, there is no chance you'll enjoy this one. And even if you liked the first one and thought the second book was fun as well (as I did), by the time you get to the fourth book you've seen it all. A constant parade of hot French girls, Paul West and some excuse for a story. When Clarke wants to publish his fifth book, I hope he writes his second. We've been fed the same first book four times by now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2015
I feel that with this fourth book Stephen Clarke has achieved what he's been trying to do in the first three novels. In my opinion the others have been OK, and entertaining enough, but somehow haven't quite worked. Having said that, I don't recommend skipping the others and going straight to this one, because much of the humour comes from repeated jokes.

With the first two books taking place largely in Paris and the third taking us on a transatlantic trip, this one has as its background the Mediterranean coast. For the benefit of those of you who haven't been following the adventures of Paul West, he's an accident-prone sort of character, slightly gullible and often irritating, but likeable in a way. Basically the books deal with his misadventures as he tries to earn a reasonable living and find a meaningful relationship, although he seems to think the latter is best achieved by constant sex with anyone who takes his fancy.

Gloria M, the girl he met in book 3 in the U.S. reappears in his life and is the reason for his trip to the Med. But things are complex and Elodie, a character who has been one of the cast since the start, makes her own demands on him. The setting is attractive, there's plenty of humour and the plot, while silly, is compelling enough to keep you turning pages.

I feel that the author has at last settled into his style and as such the main character seems better developed and less of a caricature, although there is a certain amount of pastiche and this is certainly not a book to be taken seriously. When the main character is easier to accept, the whole novel falls into place much more, and it's somehow easier just to go with the flow.

I haven't yet read number 5, and it remains to be seen whether this is a one-off or not. I hope 5 is the last, though, as I don't think the series could be sustained much longer.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2008
Loved it- brilliantly witty as always. One of the few authors who make me really laugh out loud, as well as providing loads of giggles throughout the book.

The decriptions of the South of France are gorgeous too, so evocative- I felt like I was really there.

I can thoroughly recommend this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2013
Having read Clark's excellent 1000 Years Of Annoying The French I decided to buy this book to take with me to the Riviera. What an incredibly dull thriller it turned out to be! Little plot development or character development, never a sentence that makes you think 'well written sir', just a very uninspiring or enjoyable read. Although set on the Riviera there is no glamorous backdrop to the story.nWe are not taking on a riotous adventure through Cannes or Nice or Monaco etc. it's all set down the other end of the coast. I got to 20 pages to the end and another book I'd ordered was delivered so I dropped Dial M for Merde off at the charity shop. I had zero interest in the ending. I have only ever failed to complete two other books in 40 years of reading so that tells you something.

The title should be changed to 'Read M For Merde'

Do check out '1000 Years' however as its a fascinating book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2008
I found this book absolutely hilarious! I am already a fan of the author after reading A Year in the Merde which is equally fantastic. This book actually made me laugh out loud in several parts and I will no doubt be reading another 'Merde' book in the near future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2011
Having read and enjoyed the first three books in the series, this one was no disappointment.

Like other reviewers, I think getting our favourite characters back onto French soil is a welcome return to form (the previous book is set in the USA). The plot is light and moves quickly but never takes itself too seriously. It's well written and even managed to make me laugh out loud a few times. I'm usually quite good at predicting the twists in books and films, but in this case I really didn't see them coming so full marks for that.

A good book to read when you're glum. It certainly cheered me up anyway.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2009
Another book from Stephen Clarke and a good easy read. Written from the point of view of 'Pol' who once again finds himself embroiled with a new girlfriend and a mystery surrounding her. Other fanciable ladies criss cross the story {and his imagination!},as the story fairly rattles along at a good pace.
Its a fairly unbelievable tale,set in the South of France, but keeps you guessing until the unbelievable end.
The catering side of the story is as usual the framework for the story with characters Jake and Elodie from previous writings.
Its a sort of James Bond witten by Tom Sharpe story. Good holiday read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2010
Great, Paul West has returned to France in this his fourth Merde adventure. I was pleased as it made for a very entertaining book once again. Still including many beauties around his little finger, many difficult moments and tight corners. However, another laugh out loud LOL book to put a smile on your face. How does he get his washing done? Any ideas? Excellent!
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