It'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.
French author Varenne makes his U.S. debut with this riveting noir. Demoted from elite homicide detective at Paris's CID for unwelcome whistle-blowing, Lt. Richard Gu rin discovers an unexpected respite investigating suicides, until the outsize brain perched atop his scrawny torso starts to discern suspicious coincidences in several deaths. Gu rin's emerging conspiracy theory gains traction when a fresh case that of the onstage exsanguination of American Gulf War vet turned fakir Alan Mustgrave during an S&M performance connects the detective with like-minded John P. Nichols, a Franco-American psychologist who doesn't believe Mustgrave's death was accidental. The accelerating, increasingly deadly action zips from Paris's Luxembourg Gardens to the bucolic Lot district, hurtling a passel of eccentrics sympathiques, including Gu rin's unflappable football-besotted sidekick Lambert, against the spiky reality of the human condition or, as the despairing detective describes it, a "complex mass alternating between hazardous free will and anarchic disintegration."