Pascal Garnier, Moon in a Dead Eye, translated from the French by Emily Boyce (London: Gallic Books, 2013 ) 4 stars
Opening line: Martial compared the photo on the cover of the brochure with the view from the window.
Pascal Garnier, who died in 2010, was a prolific French author who worked in a number of genres, including crime. Gallic Books have thus far published four of his works in translation, with more due in 2014.
To date, I’ve sampled two of Garnier’s novels – or more accurately novellas of modest length – and have very much enjoyed the sharp observational powers deployed in each. Moon in a Dead Eye is set in a posh French retirement village: a gated community whose inhabitants are attracted by its 24/7 security and the promise that they will be protected from nasty ‘foreign’ elements. But perhaps Martial, Odette, Maxime, Marlene and Lea should be worrying less about the threat from without than the threat from within? To all those fantasising about a retirement in the South of France, I can only say: be careful what you wish for…
In common with Garnier’s earlier novel A26, which I would also highly recommend, Moon in a Dead Eye digs beneath the apparent respectability of provincial life to reveal the violence lurking beneath. This violence is often male, erupting from unexpected sources following a series of interlinked events. Although the stories they tell are undeniably bleak, both books are leavened with a biting satirical humour (reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith or the German author Ingrid Noll), and are beautifully and precisely written.
I’m looking forward to reading the other two (superbly titled) Garnier novels already available - The Panda Theory and How’s the Pain? Together with A26 and The Moon in a Dead Eye, they’ll make a stylishly grim quartet on my bookshelf.
Mrs. Peabody awards Moon in a Dead Eye a beautifully-observed and rather wicked 4 stars.
With thanks to Gallic Books for sending me an advance copy of this book.