Antonin Varenne- Bed of Nails

Product DetailsIt’s as if he’s being mocked from beyond the grave. When John Nichols arrives to identify the body of an old friend, he is immediately caught up in the detritus of Alan Musgrave’s life, the side of Paris the tourists don’t see, where everyone has a past but very few count on a future. But what can he expect from a man who bled to death in his own excruciating S&M stage show? Now there’s a maverick police lieutenant on the prowl who thinks that Musgrave’s suicide was murder. Guérin might not look like much, but he’s one of the few honest officers on the force. As the horrific extent of police abuse is revealed, the race is on to find the link between a slew of recent suicides – and the key to it is buried deep in Nichols’s past. Bed of Nails does for Paris what James Ellroy did for vintage America, shining a light as never before on the seedy underbelly of La Ville-Luminère…          

I have not read a crime thriller as utterly compelling and emotionally powerful as ‘Bed of Nails’ for many years and, having been promised a unique crime reading experience by those lucky enough to have read this before publication, I would implore that you seek this out and prepare for an unparallelled master class in crime writing. A novel that metaphorically slaps you round the face from the opening scene of a harrowing suicide and a plot that continues to pummel the reader’s senses throughout, plunging you unreservedly into the seedy underbelly of Parisian life, police and foreign diplomatic corruption and a twisting thriller peopled by a cast of beguiling and emotionally flawed but totally engaging characters. Being reluctant to divulge any further details of the plot, I would say that this a novel that is best approached from another angle entirely and for the following reasons:

There’s that awful reviewer’s cliche that ‘this is a book that stays with you long after the final page is turned’ but I would absolutely endorse this statement in relation to this novel. The ending is so emotionally bleak for all the main protagonists, but you have engaged with them so much during the course of the book, gravitating between moments of violence to tenuous but touching interludes of human connection that it genuinely strikes a powerful chord. As the denouement unfolds with such devastating consequences for the characters , there is a calm and understated depiction of human frailty. In the death of one character in particular, whose violent end is tinged with a moment of complete serenity, there is a beautifully wrought and succinct juxtaposition with a solitary image that is wholly resonant of the natural world . With assured vignettes like this at absolutely the right moments, the manipulation of language to suit the change of tempo and tone in the plot, and the deeper philosophical context, this crime novel just draws you in and adds to your sense of this being more than a thriller, but a literary exploration of the boundaries of mainstream crime writing. Simply wonderful…

(With thanks to Quercus for the ARC)


  1. Antonin says:

    22/12/2012 at 8:23 pm (Edit)

    I don’t know who is behind this blog, and it is unusual for me to post comments, but I’d like to thank the enthousiastic reader who liked so much “Bed of nails”, aka “Fakirs”.
    I’m the one behind the book…
    So thank you, and I hope you’ll enjoy as much my next book, soon to be translated and published by Maclehose Press.
    Happy holidays and reads.



  2. ravencrimereads says:

    23/12/2012 at 12:03 am (Edit)

    Merci Antonin!
    It was my pleasure to read your wonderful book and I will look forward very much to your next.
    Joyeux Noël et bonne année!


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