The Bones of Paris
By: Laurie R. King
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Bantam Publishers via NetGalley & Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of the author as part of The Bones of Paris Book Tour
Paris, France: September 1929. For Harris Stuyvesant, the assignment is a private investigator’s dream—he’s getting paid to troll the cafés and bars of Montparnasse, looking for a pretty young woman. The American agent has a healthy appreciation for la vie de bohème, despite having worked for years at the U.S. Bureau of Investigation. The missing person in question is Philippa Crosby, a twenty-two year old from Boston who has been living in Paris, modeling and acting. Her family became alarmed when she stopped all communications, and Stuyvesant agreed to track her down. He wholly expects to find her in the arms of some up-and-coming artist, perhaps experimenting with the decadent lifestyle that is suddenly available on every rue and boulevard.
As Stuyvesant follows Philippa’s trail through the expatriate community of artists and writers, he finds that she is known to many of its famous—and infamous—inhabitants, from Shakespeare and Company’s Sylvia Beach to Ernest Hemingway to the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. But when the evidence leads Stuyvesant to the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, his investigation takes a sharp, disturbing turn. At the Grand-Guignol, murder, insanity, and sexual perversion are all staged to shocking, brutal effect: depravity as art, savage human nature on stage.
Soon it becomes clear that one missing girl is a drop in the bucket. Here, amid the glittering lights of the cabarets, hides a monster whose artistic coup de grâce is to be rendered in blood. And Stuyvesant will have to descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer . . . sifting through The Bones of Paris.
The premise of this novel sounds really interesting (a murder mystery set in the City of Lights? Haven’t read many mysteries set in the city) plus I’ve never read anything by this author but her bibliography is pretty extensive. I was fortunate to be approved of a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review as well as take part in a blog tour for this novel. This novel will be available on September 10th. Be sure to check out the end of this review for a chance to win a hardback copy of this novel! US only (sorry international followers!)
This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.
The novel pretty much grabbed my attention from the first page. The author does a wonderful job in bringing out the darker, more elusive side of Paris to life. There is a sense of danger lurking at every corner, a sense of perversion lurking just beneath the surface at those grungier parts of town. At the same time, the story gives a glimpse of what everyday life is like in the 1920s with the way that Harris goes about his investigation, looking into Pip’s life prior to her disappearance.
The novel is also a great reminder of how strange yet modern the 1920s were when it came to art and thought: questioning everything, approaching the definition art differently, testing the boundaries of those definitions, veering into the more macabre side of life. It really adds to the creep factor of the mystery and really starts unraveling as Harris digs deeper into his investigation.
The case itself was interesting; it’s perhaps one of those cases where, if the main character had just walked away when things got really weird, you wouldn’t have blamed him for it. Because it does get pretty creepy and dangerous and has you wondering who’s the culprit, who’s involved and to what extent. And it can get pretty gruesome at times (in relation to the whole macabre craze that was present in the subculture of the time). Elements from Harris’ past also spring up over the course of the novel; you don’t have to have read the first novel in the Harris Stuyvesant series to know what his backstory is all about as the narrative brings you up to speed quite nicely.
There’s perhaps one small aspect of the novel that’s a little out there regarding one of the characters (though rather in keeping with the atmosphere of the story given its perchance for the darker aspects of human nature) but otherwise The Bones of Paris is a very riveting read. I highly recommend it to readers of mystery novels, historical fiction and stories set in Paris.
ABOUT LAURIE R. KING
Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of ten Mary Russell mysteries, five contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli, and the acclaimed novels A Darker Place, Folly, Keeping Watch, and Touchstone. She lives in Northern California where she is currently at work on her next novel.
Now that you’ve read my review of the novel, here’s the giveaway for a chance to win a hardback copy! Please fill out the following Rafflecopter below to enter; US Residents only (sorry international followers!). Contest closes on September 10th at 11:59 PM EST. Five (5) winners will be drawn and contacted the following day. If you have any questions (or if there’s an issue with the Rafflecopter), feel free to comment below or email me.