Smoking Kills by Antoine Laurain

smoking kills

For those of you familiar with my blog you may have spotted my new tagline.

I can assure you that there are oodles of books over 200 pages I would love to read but as an adorable new baby boy joined our family 4 months ago I really need to read most of a book in one sitting otherwise I will never reach the end!

I was very lucky to win a copy of Smoking Kills from Silvia at Book After Book and it was the first book I read after son #2 was born which means I’ll probably always remember it.
(Son #1 in 2014 = Burial Rites).

This novel comes in at slightly over the 200 page mark (224 pages) and I think Gallic Books made a wise choice at publishing small-ish and perfectly formed story.

When headhunter Fabrice Valentine faces a smoking ban at work, he decides to undertake a course of hypnotherapy to rid himself of the habit. He eventually finds himself lighting up again – but with none of his previous enjoyment.

Then he discovers something terrible: he accidentally causes a mans death, and needing a cigarette to calm his nerves, he enjoys it more than any other previous smoke. What if he now needs to kill someone every time he wants to properly appreciate his next Benson and Hedges?

This is a very witty (and very French) novel. It had me hooked from the start. The writing is sharp and Fabrice’s distinct and commanding voice also lured my husband in as he flipped through the first few pages.

I thought the bulk of the novel would be about the series of murders Fabrice commits but it is actually about his love affair with smoking. I wouldn’t guess this would be a topic that interests me but it had me smirking and giggling throughout.

It’s hard to share a lot of the plot other than to say it is a story about Fabrice’s journey with cigarettes coming full circle but in it you will find:

  • modern art
  • unusual murders (both impulsive and planned)
  • a charlatan hypnotist
  • a dire workplace team building exercise
  • herpetology, terraniums and rare frog species
  • a former CIA assasin turned blogger in his twilight years
  • the perfect and most fitting end to the story

Perhaps the best ending to a story I’ve come across for a while.

This list may make it sound like a whacky comedy trying to oudo its rivals but it is deadly serious (in cynicism) and cleverly written. Once you reach the end you realise the author has not included one superfluous detail.

I definitely plan to read more of Laurain’s novels. It’s one of those fine moments when I realise I have discovered a new author with a backlist of titles waiting for me.





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