“Sacre Bleu” by Christopher Moore
In the wild, wacky, and wonderful world of Christopher Moore’s works, absurdity usually reigns and the humor comes fast and furious. Trust me. I know. I’ve read them all — most of them more than once. I’m a Moore fan, and his vampires, whale folk, fruit bats, island people, and the residents of Pine Cove are all characters I’m way familiar with.
His latest novel, “Sacre Bleu,” is something different. I mean it as a huge compliment when I say that this newest release almost feels like a more mature read than all Moore’s other works. It’s still amusing, of course, but as a Moore fan I have to say it stands apart from the other twelve books. It’s more detailed, deeply well-researched, and just immensely creative. In essence, Moore took a bunch of paintings and created a book around them — not the easiest feat.
“Sacre Bleu” opens with the death of Vincent Van Gogh – a death that practically screams ‘foul play.’ (Really, if you shot yourself on purpose, would you walk a mile to get help?) Set among a Paris where the Impressionist painters are on the rise, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and a baker turned painter named Lucien Lessard find themselves on a hunt for a mysterious (and likely magical) man called only The Colorman after Van Gogh’s death. Historically, the “sacre bleu” was a super rare and hyper expensive shade of blue paint that would last forever, as it was made from gemstones. Seurat, Cezanne, Monet, and Manet also show up for the hijink-laden quest, but it’s Lucien and Henri’s show. The younger and somewhat innocent Lucien and the world-weary Henri make a nice duo as they wind up criss-crossing the city seeking any number of artists, galleries, and models.
I don’t want to spoil anything, really I don’t, so I’ll stop here.
Except to say that I was happily reminded of the “Doctor Who” episode where Van Gogh is featured.
Yeah, things get other-worldly. It’s great. That’s all I’m saying.
Read it. Well done, Mr. Moore. Now I’m sad I have to wait another long time for the next book.
P.S. — The first edition of “Sacre Bleu” is gorgeous, with all the text in a shade of blue and color reproductions of all the mentioned paintings laid into the pages. Also, the book doesn’t have a dust jacket, opting instead for a library-ish binding, which makes me incredibly happy. (I haaaate dust jackets.) From what I hear, future printings will be black and white, so if you want a positively lovely addition to your collection, get your hands on one stat.