Hotel Noir by Casper Silk

“Welcome to the Hotel Noir, peerless gem of hospitality and sole holder of a Michelin star on the island of St Germaine”

The story follows Francis Stein, a widowed American academic, who has been visiting the island for over twenty years, as he records his life, his attempts to save a young prostitute from herself and, just for good measure, his dreams. And then, about halfway through the book, things take a turn for the worse.

This is, according to the blurb, “A kaleidoscopic striptease of the human soul” that will “make you sweat”. It’s also a book that I would probably never have bought for myself. But the nice people at Pale Fire Press asked me to do a review, and I always like to expand my horizons a bit. So, what did I make of it?

Let’s make this clear from the beginning – I’m not the right person to review this book. The writing style is completely out of what I suppose you could call my comfort zone, laden with bizarre lyrical touches, eccentric characters and an overdose of simile and metaphor.

As such, as a book, I don’t think I can give a constructive opinion of it. It’s fair to say that I didn’t “get” it. The language became irritating very quickly, and I found it a genuine struggle to finish, despite it being less than 200 pages long.

But as a murder mystery? That’s my thing, so I should say something about that. Well, that’s not great either. Spoiling a major twist on the blurb didn’t help. It certainly isn’t worth ploughing through the prose just for the mystery.

All I can recommend is that if you’re a reader with a wider range of tolerance to this sort of thing than me, have a browse of the first chapter first – that should make your mind up. But I’m afraid I can’t recommend it at all.

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7 comments

  1. Puzzle Doctor – First, thank you for your candor. And I couldn’t agree with you more about blurbs that give away major plot points and twists. I’ve even read some that give the whole novel away and I really dislike that!

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    • Well, I had to be honest about this one – but as I said, I’m not the right reader for this book. So much so, I considered not posting a review, but it is a mystery novel and hence felt I would be doing my readers a disservice if I didn’t. I’ll be very curious to see what others think of it.

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  2. Reviewers should never be hesitant to post bad reviews — you are doing us a service and we’re all able to make up our own minds based on your review, which is in turn based on facts and not just preferences. So thanks for posting yours.

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