Paris In July is one of my favorite blog parties. Each July a group of bloggers who love Paris (and France) write about books, film, travel, food and all things French or set in France. My first offering for this event are two books set in Paris by Mark Pryor.
Hugo Marston, an American from Texas, is the chief of security for the American Embassy in Paris. In the first of this mystery series, his friend Max, a bouquiniste, is kidnapped at gunpoint. Hugo witnesses the event but is powerless to stop it so he makes it his mission to find the kidnapper with the help of a former CIA agent, his longtime pal Tom.
|The bouquinistes on the Seine|
Pryor weaves a clever plot that includes Max's previous life as a Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter, rival drug gangs, and perhaps a secret within one of the books sold on the banks of the Seine. As more booksellers disappear, their bodies are found floating in the Seine. Will he be able to solve the mystery before he becomes a target himself?
Set in setting familiar to those who love Paris, including the streets along the Seine and the Marais, it is a wonderful first entry to a series that has great potential.
The French Widow
While walking through the Tuileries to meet a friend for a drink, Hugo Marston hears shots and sees a lone gunman with two guns, shooting at people. Carrying his gun from the Embassy security division, he is able to shoot the man and becomes a French hero.
Marston is invited to a gala Bastille Day party at the home of the wealthy Lambourd family, where (we learn in a prologue by "the Killer") a murder will take place. (Think of the setting as something like Musee Jacquemart Andre, a former home, now a museum.) However, a failed murder attempt has taken place at the mansion the evening before the party when an American woman assisting with the upcoming event is found on the stairway after a tryst with one of the house residentst.
|Musee Jacquemart Andre|
Because the victim is an American, Marston is brought into that case as well. But some view his heroic actions the day before as a staged event and in other ways he is considered a suspect in the murder of the shooter. Are the two cases connected and will Marston find the answers before he becomes a victim himself?
In this book, one of the more recent of the series, contemporary politics and conspiracy theories are cleverly woven together with a strong mystery and compelling characters to make for an intriguing adventure set in the heart of Paris.
It's no wonder "Hugo Marston" is a Texan. His creator, Mark Pryor, is the assistant District Attorney for Travis County, Texas. However, the writer, born and raised in England, was first a police reporter in Essex before moving to his mother's home town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He holds both journalism and law degrees.
There are ten books in the Marston series. I have read the first and the ninth. I suspect like many mystery series, it helps to read them in order but I didn't feel like I missed anything by doing so in a slipshod manner!
For more Paris in July post, visit Tamara at Thyme for Tea!