Antonin Varenne is a future great writer whose previous two books ‘Bed of Nails‘ and ‘ Losers Corner‘ have been published in English by MacLehose Press. His latest and greatest book ‘Trois Mille Chevaux Vapeur’ or ‘Three Thousand Horse Power’ in English was released in France in April last year.
This story follows Arthur Bowman, initially an English private soldier working for the East India Company, on his life changing Odyssey beginning with his and his group’s initial capture and torture over a four month period in the Burmese jungle, their return to London and their inability to come to terms with what had happened to them illustrated mainly by Arthur’s despair.
A series of terrible murders then begin where the victims are killed in the same fashion as Arthur and his group were tortured, leading Arthur to deduce that the murderer was one of the few survivors of their ordeal.
The book follows Arthur on the trail of murders from mid 19th century London to New York and the long trail to San Francisco. The reader follows the metamorphosis of Arthur from unquestioning soldier through to a person capable of forgiveness.
This book is at the crossroads between being a thriller and an adventure story, set in several very precise moments in history, from the demise of the East India Company through to the wagon trains to the west and the American civil war.
Greed and survival are the two major themes ever present throughout the 700 pages. From the writing style through to the subject matter this is a book almost written for the English speaking world. The descriptive skill had me feeling I was present in most of the places in which the story was set.
Highly recommended, come on MacLehose, get this one translated.
First published in French as Trois Mille Chevaux Vapeur by Albin Michel in 2014