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Monday, August 18, 2014

Two French Novels (Wolf Hunt and The Man with the Lead Stomach)

I received ARCs from these two authors last year and was happy to receive two more, although I've certainly delayed reviewing them.  Last year, I liked Cabasson's The Officer's Prey better than Parot's The Chatelet Apprentice, but this time I preferred Parot's novel.

Wolf Hunt           trans.  Isabel Reid

Armand Cabasson is a French psychiatrist and novelist, and Wolf Hunt is the first in this series about Quentin Margont, an officer in the Napoleonic Wars.  While I'm not sure where The Officer's Prey is chronologically in the series, I thought it more accessible than Wolf Hunt.

In Wolf Hunt, someone is killing orphans, and Margont is asked by a beautiful woman to find the killer.  Luckily(?), he is able to team up with Lukas Relmyer, who managed to escape the killer years ago.

The killer is now operating under the cover of war, hoping to evade capture.

Unfortunately, the characters refused to take any real dimension, and the plot didn't feel reasonable to me; the pace was plodding--especially, in places such as when searching Austrian documents for clues about the murderer.

The Officer's Prey, however, showed much improvement over this first novel.  These may be the only two so far to translated.

ARC from Gallic Books.

Historic Mystery.  reprint 2014.  298 pages.

The Man with the Lead Stomach   trans. Michael Glencross

This is the second novel in the series featuring Nicholas Le Floch, newly appointed police commissioner.  I liked this one better than The Chatelet Apprentice, which was the first in the series.

Again, Parot shows a great ability to create the atmosphere of Paris in 1761, a complex mixture of the shimmer of wealth, the filth of Paris streets and lack of sanitation, intrigue and betrayal, and the seeds of revolution.

The characterization of Le Flock and his friends is better than in the first book; they seem more human, more interesting.  The author has abandoned some of the distance with which he presented them in the first novel.

The plot involves the death of a courtier's son, a locked room, and a bizarre murder, the means of which is only established later.  Charles-Henri Sanson, the famous executioner, again plays a role in this novel.

ARC from Gallic Books.

Historic Mystery.  reprint 2014.  338 pages.  


  1. It's too bad Wolf Hunt wasn't better.

    The Man with the Lead Stomach sounds good though--I am glad this book was better than the first in the series.

  2. Ah, here I thought Wolf Hunt has a promising premise... It's a shame that it doesn't deliver.

    The Man with the Lead Stomach sounds intriguing though. The title itself is enough to catch my attention. :)

  3. Wendy - I like the historical aspects of both novels.

    Melody - I was disappointed in Wolf Hunt, but it was Cabasson's first novel. Margont and his friends felt more rounded in The Officer's Prey.