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Bed of NailsIt’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.

Guerin 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-Luminere.

I thoroughly enjoyed this translated novel, I can’t say that I really liked any of the characters, including John Nichols however the writing is engaging and enjoyable as it pulls you through the parts of Paris most tourists don’t visit.

French crime novels unsurprisingly are different from any other crime novels, often dark with a confusing plot and a sense of humour that can be tricky to grasp so I am never sure I would fall in love with them ala Scandinavian crime novels, so if you only read one, this is a good one to try.

9780857050373/£18.99/MacLehose Press

Sheila O’Reilly