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The Prisoner of the Riviera (The Francis…

The Prisoner of the Riviera (The Francis Bacon Mysteries)

by Janice Law

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The setting of this amusing little eBook novel is post WWII London, and then southern France and the riviera. Francis Bacon, London artist, bon vivant, gambler, and ogler of handsome young men has had it with rationing, rebuilding, and chronic lack of good champagne. When his friend Arnold, a respectable businessman with enough money to finance the trip suggests going to Monte Carlo, Bacon is more than ready to go. They also take Bacon's former nanny, Nan, who he lives with. Her vision is going so he won't leave her alone - and she's fun.

As the two men leave a gambling club the night before their planned departure, they see a man shot. Bacon tries to save him while Arnold calls for help. Then the club owner, to whom Bacon owes a lot of money, offers to forgive the debt if Bacon will deliver a small packet to the man's widow on Riviera. He says the gunshot wound led to pneumonia and the man died.

This is the beginning of a sort of Shakesperean comedy with mistaken identities, dead people who aren't really dead, scoundrels, some who learned illegal dealings during the war, corrupt cops, even the Tour de France is part of the story. Meanwhile, Bacon assumes aliases and occasionally has conversations with his alter ego of the moment. He is a prisoner because a weasel of a police chief confiscates his passport at a time when various bad guys are trying their bumbling best to kill him.

All through the story Bacon rejoices in his appreciation of the male figure. He is gloriously homosexual, and of course finds many other men of his persuasion along the way.

There are many hilarious scenes, i.e. when Bacon (who doesn't know how to drive) is behind the wheel of a truck careening down a steep, curvy mountain road while a bad guy tries to stab him in the back. I laughed and laughed at Bacon's adventures. Nice eBook for a dreary winter day.

Recommended reading
Source: Open Road Media ( )
  bjmitch | Jan 18, 2014 |
Last year I read and adored Janice Law's previous novel featuring 20th century painter Francis Bacon, Fires of London. (It made my top ten of 2012!) I loved it for its dark and slightly raunchy tone, for being gritty and gay (homosexual, not cheerful), and for being atmospheric and escapist.

I hadn't realized there was a chance of more Bacon so when I learned Law had written a second novel featuring him, I was over the moon. To my delight, the novel opened (literally, the second line!) with the same flippant seediness I loved in the first book. (We had flags and bunting, and I got marvelously drunk and committed a public indecency in Hyde Park -- my little contribution to Britannia's celebration. p5)

The war is over, and Francis is ready to leave post-war London, with the food shortages and lingering stink of war. He rallies his childhood nanny, who is nearly blind and deeply devoted to him, and his respectable lover Albert, for a trip to Monte Carlo. But after witnessing a man getting shot outside a club in London, Francis is tasked with taking the man's effects to his widow who just happens to live on the Riviera, and the endeavor proves more complicated than he anticipated.

Francis narrates the story, and in Law's hands, he's wry, pithy, and sarcastic. Coy, too, for he sadly never dishes details on his liaisons. His voice is what makes these books so captivating: he's a reliable narrator who prefers night to day, the grotesque to the beautiful, the luxuries of life while slumming it. Law evokes the post-war Riviera in its complicated contradiction -- gorgeous beaches and sunny vistas, Vichy collaborators transforming themselves into Allied supporters -- and it makes a fascinating backdrop for a murder mystery.

Fans of WWII settings will enjoy this one; the inclusion of a gay lead makes it all the more novel and interesting. Those new to the series will be fine picking this one up without being lost, but you will want to indulge in the delicious seediness of Francis, and I strongly encourage you to get Fires of London. Then get this one, so there will be a third Francis Bacon book! ( )
  unabridgedchick | Dec 4, 2013 |
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added by gsc55 | editReviews by Amos Lassen (Jun 9, 2014)
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"Peace has come to England and the blackout is over, but the gloom has yet to lift from London. One night, leaving a gambling club where he has run up a considerable tab, the young painter Francis Bacon, accompanied by his lover, sees a man gunned down in the street. They do what they can to stanch the flow of blood, but the Frenchman dies in the hospital. Soon afterward, Bacon receives a strange offer from the club owner: He will erase Bacon's debts if the painter delivers a package to the dead man's widow, Madame Renard, on the Riviera. What gambler could resist a trip to Monte Carlo? After handing over the parcel, Bacon learns that Madame Renard is dead -- and the striking young woman who accepted the delivery is an imposter. The Riviera may be lovely, but in 1945, its sun-drenched beaches can be just as dark as the back alleys of London"--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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