Monday, 28th July 2014. On unwittingly dabbling in historical fiction
The fifth Franck Guerin novel (Tight-Lipped) will be published in paperback in the UK in October (since things move quicker in the digital realm, the Kindle version is already available). It features a scene in a location that no longer exists – the del Duca bookshop on the boulevard des Italians. Del Duca went the way of many a bookstore in November 2012 whereas Tight-Lipped takes place in September 2011 – proof that the Franck Guerin novels, although classified as contemporary crime fiction, are being outpaced by Old Father Time.
The chronology of the novels is as regular as clockwork: Wasp-Waisted is set in 2007; each subsequent book takes place the year after its predecessor. I, alas, am not quite so industrious. The gap between the series’ fictional calendar and the real-world one of writing/publishing has grown steadily with each title.
Although Paris is a city that changes very slowly – more than a century has gone by since baron Haussmann recast it in his image, but were he to rise from his grave today he would recognise most of his surroundings – little by little the details of the books are becoming obsolete. The Crillon (which hosted the final scene of Wasp-Waisted) is currently closed while it undergoes extensive renovation. Gaining access to the underside of the Alexander III bridge no longer involves dodging a constant stream of speeding traffic as it did in Night-Scented (sadly, the hôtel Lambert, another of the book’s key locations, has suffered devastating fire damage between times). If this carries on, I'll start worrying about having featured Garnier’s magnificent Opera so extensively in Loose-Limbed, for fear that something might happen to it.