Scan 4What’s the book about?

Directly from the blurb:

Paris. 1929. For Harris Stuyvesant, his current assignment is a private investigator’s dream – he’s getting paid to trawl the cafes and bars of Montparnasse , looking for a pretty young woman.

This is the background to Laurie King’s second novel involving Stuyvesant and his friend Bennett Grey, following on from the events of Touchstone (which I reviewed here); although I don’t think you need to have read that first it makes the relationships between the three main characters easier to understand. Stuyvesant is being paid to look Philippa Crosby who just seems to have vanished without trace, and in doing so he begins to realise the unpleasantness that lies underneath 1920s Paris and the fact that there may be a serial killer on the loose.

Why did I want to read it.

I think I’ve read every single one of Laurie King’s novels and there seemed no reason to stop now. And I liked the idea of revisiting the Paris of that time following my unsatisfactory visit there through the medium of film (namely Midnight in Paris – you can find out what I thought about that here).

What did I think of it?

I think I found this the hardest of King’s books to get going, partly because the main attraction for me is not Stuyvesant but Grey, and although we begin with him in a very tantalising way, we then leave him and leap back to Paris in one of those “48 hours earlier” type things that you often get in US crime series and which I’ve learned to spot within about 3 seconds of the opening sequence. And that was a bit unsatisfying.

I also found Stuyvesant harder to like this time round, he seemed more boorish that I remember although he does feel mildly guilty (he knew the missing girl slightly if intimately – not a spoiler, we find that our pretty early on) and of course he is suffering from lost love in the form of Grey’s sister Sarah, who of course pops up as everyone who was everyone was in Paris at that time (or so it seems).

But the book really picks up when it becomes clear that there is a pretty nasty murderer with a fiendish plot and some rather unusual friends kicking around, and of course at least one character gets kidnapped, and of course the local police are suspicious of our hero(es), and of course (not quite) every famous artist/writer/character appears or gets mentioned by someone else. Which sounds like I’m criticising but I’m really not; once all the grand guignol stuff starts it becomes a great read and I enjoyed it very much. Must have done; I stayed up until 1.30 in the morning to finish it off.

I will be very interested to see where the characters go from here.