How's the Pain?, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Death is Simon's business. And now the ageing vermin exterminator is preparing to die.

But he still has one last job down on the coast, and he needs a driver. Bernard is twenty-one. He can drive and he's never seen the sea. He can't pass up the chance to chauffeur for Simon, whatever his mother may say. As the unlikely pair set off on their journey, Bernard soon finds that Simon's definition of vermin is broader than he'd expected...Veering from the hilarious to the horrific, this offbeat story from master stylist, Pascal Garnier, is at heart an affecting study of human frailty.




Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

A slim full bodied taste of French Noir. Simon (whose business is to exterminate "Vermin") is at the end of his life and on his last job but on a whim he decides that he needs a driver and asks his very new young friend, guileless Bernard, to take the job.. but life (and death) has its own plans.Caught firmly between life's hope and its inevitable darkness, this is an amusingly dark novel, punctured with flashes of violence that still manages to retain a soft spot for human frailty. It's really the tone and structure that standout, as Simon's cynical observations and desperate nostalgia rub against Bernard's youth and optimism. Two characters, one of whom wants a future and another who needs an ending. Although It’s not really an odd couple story, all characters are wonderfully skewed (but never over the top) from the elderly taxidermist who needs love to Bernard’s alcoholic mother, no it’s more clash of plans versus life’s chaos. The structure just adds an extra thoughtfulness to the novel (end at the beginning). May I add that personally it was refreshing to read a non USA noir, although it took me a while to visually swap to a French background! The translation seems good too, although some English words felt a bit jarring i.e. dole (meaning benefits)Recommend to genre fans or wanting a quick, immersive, morally ambivalent read.

Review by

I'd describe this short French novel as "comic noir". Simon is a "vermin" exterminator on one last job before he retires when he meets Bernard, a gullible young man at loose ends. Because of his ill health, Simon hires Bernard as his driver, and soon finds himself also encumbered with a pretty young woman with a squalling baby who were rescued by Bernard. And Bernard discovers that Simon's definition of "vermin" is not what he initially thought.This is a clever, offbeat and quirky novel, and I enjoyed it very much. Amazon says that Garnier has been compared to Simenon.Recommended

Also by Pascal Garnier   |  View all