Philip Kovacs is a teacher in Paris. One evening he returns to his flat beside the Canal Saint Martin to find a sharp, disturbing odour in the air. It is the smell of trespass; the smell of his own fear. Nearby, in a curious corner of Pere Lachaise cemetary, a woman pays her respects at the tomb of Victor Noir, a 19th-century journalist gunned down in the prime of life by his mistress’s husband. Furtively, she pops a letter into the bronze hat that lies beside the effigy of Victor’s supine, bullet-punctured corpse. The envelope bears Kovacs’ name. As Fate would have it, she does not go unobserved. For Philip Kovacs, the nightmare has only just begun. By turns surprising, elliptical and surreal, The Hat of Victor Noir is a wild card of a novel, a moody black comedy that stalks through the City of Light with mayhem in mind.