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Nights in Berlin (The Francis Bacon Mysteries Book 4) Kindle Edition
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“A writer who mixes venerated clue-chasing techniques with . . . political dynamite.” —Hartford Courant
“Law powerfully evokes . . . uneasiness and rising tension.” —Kirkus Reviews on The Night Bus
About the Author
- ASIN : B015PAA8W4
- Publisher : MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (April 5, 2016)
- Publication date : April 5, 2016
- Language : English
- File size : 1722 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 228 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,147,903 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Law deftly raised the action in the three preceding volumes to make Bacon, in real life an alcoholic painter with no discernible athletic skills, into what I would call a gay Sam Spade. This is delightful: Law, a Scot and a woman who grew up in that nation's lower class in wartime, is sharp with her take on British society at the time. Fans of Ross MacDonald will enjoy this series; Law's books are concerned with relationships that go awry and what spins out afterwards.
But casual browsers may ask: why all of a sudden is the fourth Bacon volume about a teenager? Law has said in a number of blogs and interviews that she felt that the real Bacon's life became very depressing after the war -- he descended into alcoholism -- and she felt that was not a fertile ground for her fiction. Apparently, she intended to end the series with the three volumes, but her family asked her to continue the series for private reading. It is has also been reported that her publisher accepted the idea of three subsequent novels sight unseen due to their popularity. As a result, the Bacon series hops back in time. (If you are the kind of person that was bothered by Star Wars' release schedule, this may not be the series for you.)
All of these books are fast read, but what makes them special is the fact that the character of Bacon is so well developed. Whether he is 17 or 45, he comes off as an engaging (if perhaps a bit too horny) rogue of a character. Some commenters have commented on the gay sex in these books, and it is true that people who have difficulty with same-sex relationships will perhaps not enjoy this book. That said, it is worth noting that the author, a surprise LAMBDA award winner, is an elderly white woman who has been married for over a half-century.
This is a sort of fictional fantasy based extremely loosely on the life of postwar British painter Francis Bacon, a fascinating character in real life who spent two months in Berlin in 1927 with a cousin of his mother. In the novel "Uncle Lastings" is a bisexual adventurer involved with the British secret service, who manages to embroil Francis in a political murder, then disappears leaving the 17-year-old with the bill, so to speak. Relying on his wits and other abilities, Francis becomes a player in a rather vague intrigue involving right-wing extremists, MI6, and the question of German rearmament.
It's a trifle, has a lot of fun moments, but doesn't quite pull off what it seems to be aiming at. Nevertheless it's a LOT better than a lot of other thrillers I've read!
The idea of a young British homosexual man traveling with his uncle to Weimar era Germany certainly suggests possibilities. Unfortunately, they are not fulfilled. For anyone who has read the works of, for example, Alan Furst, the portrayal of Berlin in this era will feel flimsy and barely accurate by comparison. Of course, Furst writes seriously, whereas this novel is certainly intended as light entertainment, and light it is. Perhaps the author has seen Cabaret (the movie version), or The Damned, or even possibly Mephisto, each of which would provide the atmospheric details used here (even including the "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" scene from Cabaret), but there is none of the depth available from even those works, much less from any serious fictional portrayals of that era.
I have to say also that I find the voice of Francis to be entirely unconvincing. There is nothing to suggest the viewpoint or responses of a 17 year old boy, even though the voice periodically reminds us that such is supposed to be his age. The voice is generic and bland, lacking the wit or sharp perceptions of one who would grow into one of the most challenging and disturbing of modern artists.
The plot is predictable, but as I wrote earlier, entertaining enough to keep one reading. I will try the other volumes in this series to see whether Law has simply experienced a low-energy period in her production.