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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Three Drops of Blood
and a Cloud of Cocaine

Quentin Mouron

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To purchase Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine

Title: Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine
Author: Quentin Mouron
Genre: Novel
Written: 2015 (Eng. 2017)
Length: 206 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine - US
Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine - UK
Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine - Canada
Trois gouttes de sang et un nuage de coke - Canada
Trois gouttes de sang et un nuage de coke - France
Drei Tropfen Blut und eine Wolke Kokain - Deutschland
  • French title: Trois gouttes de sang et un nuage de coke
  • Translated by W. Donald Wilson

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Our Assessment:

B- : tries too hard

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
L'Express . 2/7/2016 Delphine Peras
Le Temps . 5/6/2015 Lisbeth Koutchoumoff

  From the Reviews:
  • "Plus que l'intrigue (un prétexte), c'est justement la langue, précieuse, somptueuse, complètement décalée de Franck -- et donc de Mouron -- qui fait le sel de ce polar déjanté. Un bel hommage aussi aux freaks chers à feu Harry Crews." - Delphine Perasm L'Express

  • "Trois gouttes de sang et un nuage de coke est bien un roman noir, l’intrigue n’est pas le plus important. C’est la figure de Franck qui fait le spectacle, qui crée le malaise, qui marche sur le fil, comédien trop fardé qui met à nu les rouages dans un éclat de rire glaçant. Quentin Mouron joue avec le lecteur. Entre respect des codes et transgressions, on slalome sans cesse. La force des personnages, la force des descriptions sociales aussi (.....) Gonflé, lettré, troublant, Trois gouttes de sang et un nuage de coke se lit d’une traite et dépose sur la mémoire comme un arrière-goût âcre, tenace." - Lisbeth Koutchoumoff, Le Temps

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine takes place in the Boston suburb of Watertown. It seems an unlikely setting for a French-writing Swiss-Canadian author's novel -- but he does have a mystery author stand-in -- successful author James Ellsor -- explain to the PI Franck:

Look, if you're hoping to please the Boston critics, for instance, you should never set a book in Boston. What jingoists! What chauvinists !
       Write about far-off places, Ellsor recommends -- and for Mouron, Watertown is pretty far off. Even Franck, the New York-based PI who winds up in the middle of the action, mentions that he's there having come down from Toronto, rather than somewhere closer in the neighborhood.
       Franck founded Sherlock Investigations a few years earlier, and has had considerable success with it, hiring talented help whose flaws hurt their careers elsewhere but weren't a problem in this line of work. Sherlock Investigations has become so successful that Franck's role now is mostly managerial -- but:
Occasionally, however, he will accept what he calls a "special mission."
       Franck is a heavy drug user -- cocaine -- and doesn't pull his punches; author Ellsor, for example, probably wishes he hadn't invited Franck for drinks at the hotel bar. Franck's moral compass is a bit ... flexible, and, for example, he's willing to make the case for the: "barbarous murder of an elderly Watertown man, Jimmy Henderson, as he sat behind the wheel of his pickup" that is at the heart of the novel:
Now take this murder: you find it bizarre. Well, you're welcome to think what you like, but you have to admit it's a success: it strikes a jarring note in the silence, and that's something.
       Franck hasn't heard of the bestselling author Ellsor -- but he's reading Joséphin Péladan, which is meant to tell you all you need to know about him (see e.g. here and here). Yes, Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine is meant to be a stylish noir of a particular style, and in case the Péladan mentions don't get that message across strongly enough, there are chapter-epigraphs by the likes of Blanchot, Gombrowicz, and Georg Lukács .....
       Franck's counterpart in this story is the local sheriff, Paul McCarthy. [It's an unlikely job title for someone in the Watertown Police Department (there are sheriffs in Massachusetts, but they work in a separate department; Watertown is covered by the Middlesex sheriff's office). But presumably 'sheriff' resonates better with the feel Mouron is going for in his novel -- Franck certainly is a 'wild West' kind of character.] McCarthy sees a world of neat law and order -- and moral order too. He has a family, a stable life -- but the murder he's called to investigate calls all that into question for him. He finds himself on less uncertain ground; suddenly he realizes that his world -- and the entire world -- looks very fragile, easily upset and upended.
       The murder was brutal, and there doesn't seem to be much motive to it. Soon enough a suspect and a motive, of sorts, are found -- as it turns out the victim was no angel either -- but it doesn't really seem to add up.
       Franck ambles about, taking care of some other business and remaining at least on the periphery of the murder and its investigation. Eventually, the book climaxes with him and McCarthy coming together -- the frenzied Franck exhorting:
"Sheriff, let's dance !" he exclaims. "Let's dance ! Dance till we go nuts, till we shatter, pulverise ourselves !
       Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine definitely favors style over substance -- but falls short in that department too. Too much feels forced, or half-baked. Mouron's book won't please the Boston critics, not because its Boston(-area) depiction doesn't feel authentic -- that could pass -- but for the same reason critics anywhere likely take issue with it: there's not enough polish to the muddle, not enough style -- and certainly not enough substance, to the crime(s) and investigations.

- M.A.Orthofer, 3 August 2017

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Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine: Reviews: Quentin Mouron: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Swiss-Canadian author Quentin Mouron was born in 1989.

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© 2017-2021 the complete review

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