Year 5 / Book 22: The A26

22) The A26 by Pascal Garnier

With apologies for the enormous break in book reviews (it turns out reading a book a week is incompatible with having a new baby around), I’m catching up a bit on what I have actually managed to read in the last few months.

First up is this incredibly dark little number from Pascal Garnier. It involves a man at the end of his tether and with little left to live for, Bernard, who lives with his distinctly odd sister Yolande. Both have a history to escape from, and are hunkering down from the world around them. And for Bernard that has led him, somewhat randomly, to murder. And because that great sign of progress, the motorway, is heading their way, he has the perfect place to bury the bodies.

From that cheery set-up, it spirals into a blacker-than-a-Gitanes-Noirs vortex which sucks all the various characters into it, and spits them out against the wall of destiny. If you like exceptionally bleak and humour that goes beyond ‘gallows’, all wrapped up with a certain Gallic je-ne-sais-quoi, then this is for you. If you’re looking for some light relief from pandemic and lockdown, not so much – although it might make you feel glad about your own situation!

Score: 7/10

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The A26: Shocking, hilarious and poignant noir

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