The mysteries of Paris

Vannessa Cronin on September 28, 2020

The Mysteries of Paris

The good part about the recent release of Louise Penny's All the Devils Are Here, one of our Best Books of the Month, is that it was an excellent entry in a long-running, favorite series. The bad part is that we read it in one evening, and are now experiencing withdrawal symptoms. We wanted to stay in Paris just a little bit longer. Luckily, there are enough detectives working the Paris beat to help us delay our flight back to reality. Here are a few of our favorites.

Maigret and the Killer by Georges Simenon

A pleasant evening's dinner with Paris' Chief Inspector Maigret, his wife, and their friends is disturbed when a young man is discovered dead in a nearby street. And it appears that his death was due to his habit of tape recording the conversations of random strangers. Was he killed by four art thieves whose conversation may have been the last thing that he heard? This is #70 in the Maigret series, but don't let that put you off. They don't need to be read in order. And with his grave, thoughtful, way of probing the personal as well as criminal motivation for the crime, Maigret is one of the more cerebral detectives in fiction, with an uncanny ability to see beyond the obvious.

Paris, City of Night by David Downie

The son of a recently deceased CIA agent, American photographer Jason Anthony Grant knows that there is a dark underside to the City of Light. And when an imitation daguerreotype Jay created for fun sees him accused of fraud, and forced to locate an entire series of fake daguerreotypes in order to avoid prosecution, he'll get to see that dark underside up close. Aside from an interesting history lesson on daguerreotypes, Downie spins an action-packed thriller that weaves in Cold War operatives, terrorism, and espionage against a backdrop of a city as deadly as it is beautiful.

The Bookseller by Mark Pryor

Hugo Marston is left to look on helplessly as his elderly friend Max—who turns out to have been a Holocaust survivor-turned Nazi hunter-turned Paris bookseller—is abducted from his bookstore at gunpoint. Another friend, semiretired CIA agent Tom Green, agrees to help search for Max. Does his abduction have to do with his past or with the drug gang turf wars roiling the streets of Paris? Intricately plotted, with a pleasant hero whose amiability conceals his steely disposition, The Bookseller is a thriller that evokes Paris while serving up clever twists and reveals that will appeal to fans of Alan Furst.

Murder in the Palais Royal by Cara Black

The tenth book in the Aimee Leduc series, chosen out of sequence because it doesn't feature the Eiffel Tower on the jacket, is a novel that will make readers want to go back to the start. Aimee Leduc is a French-American private detective who suffers from an ailment familiar to fictional detectives: she can barely go to the shop for milk without coming across a murder victim. But because they all happen in Paris (each book in the series takes place in a different arrondissement, or district, of Paris), readers will come to feel they have an intimate knowledge of the city. Another reason to read from the start once you're hooked: the intriguing friendship (romance?) with her fellow detective, Rene.

Deceptive by Sara Rosett

Freelancer Zoe Hunter is on the hook when one of her clients is murdered and it turns out that the murderer also stole a Monet painting. Now, Zoe is being set up to take the fall for both the murder and the art theft. Luckily, her on-again, off-again boyfriend Zack is there to help keep her out of prison and find the killer. The search begins in Paris, but takes them to the South of France, too. Appealing characters, a hint of romance, a tour of Paris, and a dive into the dangerous world of art heists make this a fun read with enough narrative heft to be engaging, too.

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

Leaving Three Pines behind, Chief Inspector Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, are in Paris—where their son-in-law, Gamache's former second-in-command has started a new career—to await the birth of their youngest grandchild. But when Gamache's godfather, wealthy industrialist Stephen Horowitz is nearly killed in a hit-and-run as they walk home from dinner, Gamache must look for a would-be killer. Both a whodunnit and a whydunit, we get to know more about Gamache and his connection to Paris, as well as getting to know his family better, including his estranged son, Daniel. In addition to a cracking good mystery—and a few twists and turns—Penny shares some of the history and magic of Paris, which makes this outing a winner.

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