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Absolute Perfection of Crime: A Novel Hardcover – January 1, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 121 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; First Edition edition (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565847571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565847576
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,540,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Viel's English-language debut, a crime novel about a band of aging crooks who reunite to rob a casino in a French coastal town, is a small but polished gem that sparkles from start to finish. The slim volume opens with the anonymous first-person narrator meeting an old friend named Marin, just released from prison, who proceeds to give the narrator a thorough beating-for old time's sake. Marin and the narrator then get down to the business of planning a perfect crime-for old time's sake. They work with an old comrade and surveillance pro, Andrei, and a former cellmate of Marin's named Lucho, a suspicious character who refuses cognac ("we don't have fun unless we drink," the affronted narrator explains to him). The robbery commences with the narrator and a moll named Jeanne deliberately losing a large sum so that they can complain and distract management. Viel does a superb job of establishing a tense atmosphere, writing in long, stream-of-consciousness sentences with staccato rhythms ("In my memory the scene lasted an hour, but in reality five minutes, the alcohol, the concrete, the frowns and our glances pulling tight the drawstring of our fear"). He also pulls off stunning plot twists as several members of the team unveil hidden agendas. The wry old tough guys are familiar figures, of course, but Viel's toast to Hollywood noir and mob movies is crisp and deftly plotted-a treat for crime fiction fans.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


A 'roman noir' that dynamites the genre. -- Elle

A remarkable success....succeeds in carrying the script of a B movie to the heights of tragedy. -- Télérama

Fascinating. -- Le Figaro

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The French fascination with noir is demonstrated in this unsatisfying novella about a casino heist in an anonymous coastal city. The book starts with the release of the narrator's partner, Marin, from jail after three years. The two are part of a tiny "family" of gangsters with a bedridden old man as godfather. Led by Marin, the gang is just tough enough to control a small piece of the action, but are minor players in the underworld. Marin emerges from jail with a grand scheme to rob a casino in what will be "the absolute perfection of crime". The narrator and another gang member, Andrei, realize that the job is beyond them and it will all end badly, yet true to the noir form, they accept the inevitability of fate and go along with everything. It's all atmosphere and terse sentences as the group plans, and then in an odd shift, the narrator describes the actual heist in a reenacting for a judge. Clearly things didn't quite work out, and indeed, the "absolute perfection" disintegrated in in a shootout with the cops. The final part of the story shows the narrator emerging from jail after seven years to track down his betrayer and exact revenge. Even though all the elements are there: betrayal, death, a beautiful woman, a heist, revenge- it's never all that interesting. Perhaps because it's little more than homage to a hundred films and books we've already seen and read, and has no voice of its own. If you're really after French noir, I'd suggest finding one of Jean-Patrick Manchette's recently translated books from the '70s, like The Prone Gunman.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Berner VINE VOICE on March 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must confess that I have trouble with novels in translation. All too often I'm brought up short by a phrase or construction that simply sounds, well, "translationese".
APOC suffers from this more than most. It is a real struggle to translate the translation into something resembling "American". Once you do, if you can, it's a pretty taut little tale of crime, vengeance, and low-lives as they are lived. But for so brief a book, on so explosive a theme, to move as slowly as it does, weakens the effort considerably.
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