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on 29 December 2012
If you've watched the French series Spiral (Engrenages in French) or seen the film 36 Quai des Orfevres, you'll feel right at home with this book. It's populated with a series of surreal and , let's admit it, pretty grotesque characters and yet they are also very real and strangely compelling so that you do actually care what happens to them. I say it requires concentration because there's a multitude of characters and it's difficult keeping track of them all. The writing seems dense (I'm much more used to the short chapters of James Patterson or Harlan Coben) and I'm guessing that this stems from it being written in French originally. It's worth perservering with and the other reviewer who wrote that it stays with you after you put it down is absolutely spot-on. I'm still mulling it over now, a full week after I finished it.
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VINE VOICEon 20 December 2013
Loved it! First let me say that the translation is exceptional. With a lesser translator this may well have been a very difficult book to understand.

There is a cast of characters who would not be lost in a Feydeau farce but, after all, this is a crime thriller so let's just say it has some farcical undertones. The strangest point is that thy all connect together even though, initially, you start to wonder what's going on.

I just loved the sentence: there was a look of ambiguous satisfaction on the face of a man who has nothing. Just brilliant.

This is a stand-alone book, deep in harm, in hurt, in love, in lost youth, in lost reality with a cruncher of an ending which moves the reader almost to tears. If only there could be a sequel; some of the characters - though not many - still should have a lot to give.

Nevertheless, this is an author who just shouts out to be read - even twice if you must just because his take on the crime and the people is so different from the everyday trackers-down of clues to a death. I urge you to read it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 December 2012
Antonin Varenne has written a seedy Parisienne thriller, one of subterfuge and mystery. Alan Musgrave has bled to death and his body found by his friend John Nichols. Together with honest,eccentric policeman, Guerin and officer Lambert, Musgrave's friends (who believe he is the subject of ridicule despite being dead), set out to investigate. Suicides, cruelty and shady lives come to the forefront. Police abuse and threats pressurise witnesses in intimidatory style. The corruption by criminals, diplomatic and amongst establishment figures become blatantly transparent. The suspense and build up to the emotional yet bleak climax beggars disbelief. Nichols is a key figure as is Guerin. A top-class thriller that deserves more widespread recognition. A novel of immense intensity and power. The ending is incredibly memorable and believable. Character development by the author with twists and turns in the plot provide the reader with an intense feeling of reality. Brilliant.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 October 2013
To me strange is the word that sums up this book. The main characters are strange. Guerin, Headquarters' main suicide investigator, was relegated to this department after an unspecified breakdown and an ostensibly botched investigation into a fellow policeman's conduct and Lambert, his sidekick, is an outsider and generally derided by other cops. The plot starts with Guerin trying to link certain suicides but then morphs into police corruption and American diplomats behaving badly. As I said, strange, but also very compulsive. It was one of those "I'll just read another chapter to see what happens next" type of books. In some ways the plot reflects Guerin's mind as it jumps from one subject to another but in a very coherent and disciplined way. I don't know how to describe it better but I do think it would suit the more adventurous reader because if you want straightforward detection it may not be the book for you.
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on 6 February 2013
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.
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on 9 January 2013
Very 'noir' even by the standards of contemporary 'noir' crime fiction, but an ingenious plot.
Eccentric Lieutenant Guérin, shunned by his colleagues, is sidelined into investigating suicides together with a new and relatively fresh junior - Lambert. Other characters include two expat Americans, one who appears to have committed suicide while performing an S & M act in a seedy Paris night club, and one attempting to live a rural idyll complete with bow and arrow in SW France. Also involved are an ex-con working as a night watchman in the Luxembourg Gardens and an American diplomat. The most likeable characters are a parrot and a dog who both finish up dead.
Despite the unrelieved gloom which is realistically, but fascinatingly portrayed, the plot with its many twists and turns is
surprisingly credible.
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on 25 August 2013
I was delighted to find a new writer in the fred varga's mould and as a result of an amazon recommendation and really appreciated the translator's subtlety in the nuances of the original French. I enjoyed the development and characters
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on 11 November 2015
It was not as good as the reviews I read had led me to believe. I found it dark and boring in places. I have enjoyed books by Fred Vargas & Bernard Minier much more.
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on 16 January 2015
Interesting section on a soldier's experience in the interrogation camp of the Algerian War.

Otherwise a right load of ottt tosh.
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on 1 March 2013
It is an interesting book and its characters are pretty original. I did mostly enjoy reading it but as others have observed it is slightly dis-jointed and the ending was unsatisfactory for me.
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