Secondly, meet Francis Bacon:
No, not that one, this one:
Francis Bacon, artist. Francis Bacon, gambler. Francis Bacon, bon vivant. Francis Bacon, gay, asthmatic, Irish, auto-didact, devoted to his Nanny (who lived with him until her death in 1951), and an absolute mess (his studio, by all accounts, was like something out of "Hoarders"). Francis Bacon, who must be howling over the whopping 142 million pounds paid for his portrait of Lucian Freud last year (the most ever paid for any work of art), especially since he never made anything like that sum in his life, despite his taste for high low life. Let's just say the boy lived above his means, and that's part of what gets him in trouble.
Especially in Janice Law's "The Prisoner of the Riviera", the second of her Francis Bacon series (and if you have not yet read "The Fires of London", go and get it immediately). Francis is back, in all his dark, louche, sardonic, hungry, artistic, reckless glory.
|Monte Carlo Casino|
Now, to those of us who know our French fairytales, the name Renard hints that this is not going to be all pate de foie gras and Chateau Lafite, although Francis does his best to consume as much of the good stuff as he can. And indeed, when Francis (eventually) goes to fulfill his commission on a hot, lazy, dusty day, things go south remarkably quickly. The house is sinister, the widow unusual, and two thugs seem to be following him with ill intent. Two days later, he is the prime suspect in the murder of Madame Renard - after all, everyone knows that a foreigner, especially a British foreigner, would be the obvious suspect in a small resort town - even though the dead woman does not look at all like the Madame Renard to whom he handed that mysterious package... And the package has disappeared. And "Renard" used to be the codeword for various operations, some of which had to do with the Resistance... And everyone wants him to "help" them with their inquiries - licit or illicit. Thankfully, the food is good, the wine is wonderful, and Pierre the bicyclist is delightful... until all hell breaks loose. Again.
Francis quickly discovers that he has walked into a world that is just as haunted by World War II as Britain, only differently. The Riviera spent its war occupied by collaborators and resistance, fascists and communists, counterfeiters and criminals, and far too many of them are still there, still feuding, still fighting, still procuring, masquerading, lying, killing... (the bodies are piling up!) And far too many of them want Francis dead.
"The Prisoner of the Riviera" is a fast-paced ride that has as many twists and turns as a Riviera mountain road. And Francis is just the man to tell the story: witty, sarcastic, honest, an artist whose interest is always in the unusual, a lover who makes no bones about who he is, a man who knows everything about the dark side of life. Read it now, and then wait, breathlessly, for the next installment of Francis Bacon, channeled through Janice Law!