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Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D'Art    by Christopher Moore Amazon.com order for
Sacre Bleu
by Christopher Moore
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Always willing to try something new and outrageous, Christopher Moore again pushes the envelope in this, his 13th novel. A mystery with comedic elements and a generous dollop of ribald romance, the novel's title (sacred blue) is a reference to the color of the cloak of the Virgin Mary. Made from crushed lapis lazuli, the famous pigment was reputedly infused with supernatural powers, or so the story goes!

Leave it to Moore to take this tale of pigment infused with special powers to paint a fanciful portrait of some of the key figures of Impressionist art. As usual, Moore takes a little poetic license and begins his story with the murder of Vincent Van Gogh in Auvers.

Once Van Gogh is gone, two of his friends back in Paris, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and the novel's protagonist, Lucien Lessard, begin a haphazard investigation into their friend's death.

What follows is a tour de force journey through Paris' art community as the amateur sleuths follow the trail of the elusive and sinister Colorman, the supplier of the bewitching shade of blue known as Sacre Bleu. An impish, grotesque little fellow with a very interesting and lengthy past, The Colorman's accomplice is a fetching beauty who forms a romantic attachment to not only Lessard but some of the other characters in this artistic romp.

Since Paris provides the key setting for Sacre Bleu, a number of other artists Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Manet, Cezanne, Seurat and Gaugin pop in and out of the storyline. The reader will also find color examples of the masterpieces produced by these artists sprinkled throughout the text and, in one way or another, Moore weaves the art into his narrative and uses it to move the story forward.

Once you have finished this 'dark little fairytale of the color blue' be sure to read the afterword. Not only does Moore obligingly attempt to separate some of the fact and fiction he so indiscriminately mixes together on his literary palette before he created this bizarre picture but he also proves he did actually do his homework before setting brush to canvas (I wanted to say pen to paper but that would be a mixed metaphor!)

If you are one of Christopher Moore's readers you know he delights in surprising (some would say shocking) his fans. Whether it's vampires, celestial beings, Christ's boyhood, organ donors or whales, when this author delves into a subject something wonderful, funny and way off center follows. That is certainly the case with Sacre Bleu!

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