What Took Me So Long?*

PascalGarnierIt’s always a pleasure to get to know the work of different authors. The experience of ‘meeting’ a new-to-me author broadens my reading horizons and gives me a better perspective on crime fiction. That’s part of why I’m pleased to be a part of the New-to-Me Author meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.

For this quarter, I’d like to focus on the work of Pascal Garnier (1949-2010). You may already be very familiar with Garnier’s work, but for those of you who aren’t…

Before pursuing writing as a full-time career, Garnier had several different jobs, including a brief stint in the world of rock ‘n roll. Once he devoted himself to writing, Garnier actually developed two very different sides to his writing life. One of them was an interest in writing children’s books. The other was a series of sometimes very dark noir stories. And it was arguably those stories that got Garnier international attention.

I first got to know Garnier through The Front Seat Passenger. In that story, the police have the thankless task of informing FrontSeatPassengerFabien Delorme that his wife Sylvie has died in a tragic car accident. To make matters worse, she was not alone at the time. She had a lover Martial Arnoult who was with her and who also died in the crash. Delorme is almost more devastated at the fact that Sylvie had a lover than he is at her death. As he finds out more about Arnoult, he discovers that the man left a widow Martine, with whom Delorme becomes obsessed. He begins stalking her and finally gets a chance to meet her. Then that obsession leads to a series of events that spin more and more out of control.

Like his other stories (e.g. The A26 and How’s the Pain?), The Front Seat Passenger combines dark wit with a noir feel. There’s also Garnier’s trademark taut, spare writing style that conveys quite a lot in a few words:

‘Everyone knows that excessive happiness is as off-putting as excessive misfortune.’

That writing style also keeps the pace of the story moving quickly.

Garnier’s stories often feature ordinary human beings – people one might see at a shop, a restaurant or the cinema – who are driven to desperation. That desperation leads to all kinds of events that often go from bad to worse…


If you read French, you can find out more about Garnier right here.

There’s also an interesting English-language article about his work here.

Want to know more about The Front Seat Passenger? It’s right here.

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Alanis Morissette’s Head Over Feet.


Filed under Pascal Garnier

26 responses to “What Took Me So Long?*

  1. One of my favourite recent (well, over the past two years or so) discoveries – and I’m trying to get hold of more of his works in French. His stories are often very funny despite the darkness and despair. His children’s books are quite delightful in a zany, surreal sort of way, but most of them are really YA.

    • Marina Sofia – I actually thought of you when I was planning this post; I know what a fan you’ve become. I agree with you that there is an undertone of wit to the stories, and that I think sets them apart from the stereotypical bleak noir sort of novel. I also like the fact that he focuses on everyday people. I admit I’ve not (yet) read his children’s books, but I can imagine they’re very creative and zany, even if not exactly for very young readers.

  2. I look forward with pleasure to reading How’s the Pain? soon, and I’ve several other books on my TBR list. Great finding¡¡¡

  3. The idea of there being some humour beneath the grimness is appealing, as is the plot. It sounds familiar – have you done a spotlight on it before, Margot? Or perhaps you’ve mentioned it in another post? Either way – sounds good. Thanks for highlighting it. 🙂

  4. Col

    I really enjoyed this one and I’m looking forward to the others at some point. I think there’s another one due in November or December.

  5. I could post a book review a week and they would all be eligible for the meme (for shame) – this sounds wonderful Margot – what can I say? Thanks, again, for making the introductions – offer to find a copy right now in fact 🙂

    • Sergio – I know what you mean; I’m always discovering new-to-me authors. I hope you’ll like this one. It’s deeply dark, but as Marina Sofia says, there’s wit in it too, and a solid sense of life in France as well.

  6. Sounds like a great author…and he’s definitely new to me. Thanks!

    • Elizabeth – Garnier’s work is quite noirish, but (at least in my opinion) he writes very well, and his stories are about ordinary people you can imagine could really exist. If you do get the chance to try his work, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  7. Delighted to find another ‘new-to-me’ book to check out. Sounds intriguing.

  8. A lot of authors lately are new to me and I’m really enjoying it. Another great meme from Kerrie!

    • Rebecca – I really like that meme an awful lot too. I ‘meet’ so many new authors, and it’s nice to keep up with what my fellow crime fiction fans are reading.

  9. He was already on my radar and now you have pushed him up the list…

  10. Garnier’s work sounds really interesting (and no, I hadn’t come across his name before so he’s new-to-me too ;)). Is it available in English translation? I’m not sure my schoolgirl French is up to reading a whole book!

  11. tracybham

    Sorry to take so long to get back to this post, Margot. I definitely will be reading something by this author, and I appreciate this reminder.

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