Too close to the edge by Pascal Garnier

 

Too close to the edge by Pascal Garnier

French noir fiction

Original title – Trop près du bord

Translator – Emily Boyce

Source – review copy

Its been a while since I reviewed a Pascal Garnier  I have reviewed three of his earlier books  , I have been lucky to been sent all his books by Gallic books and have read most of them he is always a joy to read. But a new year and a new cover on the series and this latest from the French Noir writer caught me from the blurb as one I would like. It is more than 6 years since he died, he wrote over sixty books it wasn’t til 2000 when the French publisher Zulma decide to collect his works under one publisher he had written books for various publishers over the years , this was published in 1999 a number of years before his death in 2010.

She was one fo those people who had always been and would remain attractive in a wholesome, obvious sort of way. She never needed to give nature a helping hand. Just a touch of lipstick now and then when she and Charles went out of an evening, purely for the raspberry-flavoured kisses. Even the few wrinkles gathered around her eyes brought a new charm to her face. It was as though time had polished her with beeswax. Only Charles’ passing had slightly dulled the sparkle in her eyes, and placed her smile in permanent parentheses.

eliette one those french woman who just look wonderful no matter what even at her age !

This is the story of one old woman, recently widowed Eliette , who lost her husband just before they where due to retire to their mountain home which they had spent many years doing up. Much to the dismay of her kids Eliette decides to carry on with her plans and she ends up in this huge house in the middle of nowhere. Her means of getting about is a small Aixam car (on a small aside I have seen these cars over the years and never knew they were french made ) which takes her on her weekly trip to the town to stock up , it is on one such trip that her vehicle breaks down just as she chanced on some new clothes to make herself feel younger and she meets the a stranger also stuck as his car has broken he helps her she then gives him a lift . Next day the son of a neighbour has been Killed in a bad hit and run, is it murder how did it could this good Samaritan be a killer ?

He appeared to be in his forties, not very tall, not especially thick-set, with a baby face. His shoes and trouser bottoms were covered in mud. As he set to work on the wheel, the rain began to drop like a portcullis. Eliette could not tear her eyes from his muscular back, which showed through his sodden shirt . He was finished in under ten minutes.

Her Hero or is he a kiler he helps her change the wheel on her car the next day a neighbours son is dead are the two connected ?

This is a classic piece of noir a stranger appears next day some one is dead. But it is also a look at growing old eliette is a woman on the edge of being old see is trying to keep young hence the rebelling and living by herself so when a charming young man helps her by the side of the road her heart flutters a beat. I do often wonder if Tales of the unexpected was popular in France at the time it was first shown in the UK as I often feel Garnier has a touch of that series in his writing A story that starts of about an oldish woman retiring into the middle of nowhere then the car breaks down is like a classic framing device that was often used in the Tales series of programmes. If you want a great piece of modern Noir Garnier is a must read I feel his books mix both the darkest parts of the human world and comic moments so well.

Have you read Pascal Garnier ?

 

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The front seat passenger by Pascal Garnier

the front seat passenger

The front seat passenger by Pascal Garnier 

French noir fiction 

Original title – La place du mort 

Translator Jane Aitken 

Source – review copy 

Pascal Garnier was a french writer ,he died in 2010 .I have reviewed  the a26 and Panda theory on the blog I have also read the other two book Gallic books have issued How’s the pain and Moon in the dead eye .So I come this his fifth book keen to see what it was about as I had enjoyed all his other books .This book was reissued just after his death and was originally written in 1997 and was his second novel so is actually the earliest of the novels that Gallic books have translated by him .

From the moment she had left them when Fabien was five ,she was always referred to as Charlotte ,never “Maman 2 .Fabien had never heard his father say  bad word about her ,nor a good word ,he simply didn’t mention her .Like Dreyfus ,he had exiled her to a place in his memory as distant as devil’s island

Fabien had loss early on in his life .  

The front seat passenger follows the usual Garnier trait and that is to take one point and expand it out in the  A26 he took a couple protesting a road being built ,in moon in the dead eye it is a gated community versus gypsies .so The front seat passenger is the story of Fabien his wife is the passenger of the title that died in a car crash with another man ,in the man’s car .It turns out the man was married and the two of the were having an affair and Fabien didn’t know about it.But there marriage wasn’t great but  he didn’t know about the affair  ,Fabien has experience loss like this before when his mother disappeared but did this first loss leave a hole in this man ?He learns that the wife of the other man is called Martine .He decides to find her and have a look  at her and then he starts to stalker her .Now Fabien is lucky he has a great friend  Madeleine whom is trying to help her good friend stay out of real trouble .Well to see how this pans out I would suggest buying the book to find out what happens to Fabian .

Fabien was astonished at how fast he was getting over his loss .When he forced himself to think about Sylvie ,like an invalid testing the progress of their convalescence, he felt as if he were looking back on someone else’s memories .Perhaps that was what as meant by ” turning the page ” the blank whiteness of the new page gave him vertigo .So he began to darken the page by writing ” Martine  Arnoult , 45 Rue Charlot , Paris 3rd 

Has he got over her or is his grief taking a darker turn ?

Well as ever Pascal Garnier is shining a light in the darker place of the human soul loss ,grief ,betrayal .Fabian is shocked when he finds out about Sylvie his wifes accident and even more so when he finds she had a lover .The way he deals with it in becoming a stalker and trying to get some revenge this  isn’t the usual way people would deal with this ,but this is the beauty of Garnier and his books the twists they take ,this isn’t the first of the last twist this book takes .The book is written in short chapter and is only 140 pages long so is one of those books that can be quite easily read in an evening . If you like your stories dark with a couple of twists this is the book for you .

The panda theory by Pascal Garnier

The Panda Theory by Pascal Garnier

French Fiction

Translator – Svein Cloustin

Pascal Garnier was a french writer he had a number of jobs including being in a number of rock and roll bands before turning to a writing career in his mid thirties ,he unfortunately died in 2010 age 61 ,Gallic books have taken to translate three of his books .In france he was frequently compared to Simenon and Bove .The Panda Theory is the first of these books to be published .

Now Panda theory is a strange book it falls between categories of books lit,detective ,darkly humourous and also a slight surreal air .A strange turns up in a Breton Town his name is Gabriel as the book went on I saw him as a catalyst rather like Spencer Tracy’s character in Bad day at black rock a man come to sort things out .He makes friend he is a chef and connects well with the locals a pretty Hotel receptionist Madeline ,then there is a Junkie pair and a stuffed panda in a bar that which was won at a fun fair by Gabriel .This is all added by the fact the Gabriel is seemingly from nowhere ,you do wonder if his name has a meaning Gabriel being the name of the most famous angel and this man seems on one level to angelic helping people with their lives and the cooker of wonderful food  .But then there is always a feeling that this is too good  to be true .I found the feeling of something else at work apart from the goodness we see very dark .I think this is in dept in some part to the french love of existentialism the moral questions we ask and in this way is this why Gabriel is here ?  is he real ? As I said like spencer Tracy he is here to make people think .This is another take on the stranger comes to town ,we see so much in western films .

He was sitting alone at the end of a bench on a deserted railway platform .Above him a tangle of metal girders merged into the gloom ,It was the station of a small Breton town on a Sunday in October – a completely nondescript town but certainly Brittany ,the interior the sea was far away its presence unimaginable .

The opening very like bad day at black rock the feeling of being nowhere in particular .

Garnier has woven a strange unusual tale here it is very unlike anything I ve read for years I m going to be eagerly  awaiting  the other two books the publisher has got in the pipeline from him .I ve not read enough of the other writers he is compared too I m assuming it is more Simenon non Maigret books the french readers  have in mind when comparing his work to Simenon and I have only read one of them ,numerous Maigret’s  thou and that said ,in some ways there is a dry humor that also seeps through Maigret the slipped comments he sometimes makes that make you smile especially with his wife are maybe sometimes echoed  in Gabriel comments to people .It was a shame he passed so early in his writing career I feel Garnier would be a major french writer at some point .

Have you read this book ?

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