Tag Archives: Paris

An Intense and Atmospheric Mystery from Lucy Foley: The Paris Apartment

17 May

Having vacationed in Paris, I was fascinated by all the cultural opportunities this spectacular city has to offer, including museums, art galleries, fine French dining, the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe, etc. It truly is the “City of Lights”and one can get caught up in all the glorious and historical sights. Lucy Foley’s The Paris Apartment, however, exposes the dark and sinister underbelly of Paris in a creepy and clever whodunit told in alternating points of view. The characters are all dark and edgy and everyone knows something they’re not telling. Even the eerie Paris apartment building where the mystery unfolds is its own wonderfully drawn character, a swanky but unsettling old building with walls, hidden stairways, and secret passageways that seem to know something we don’t. I was completely drawn into this intense and suspenseful murder mystery from the very beginning as Foley’s descriptive narrative and intriguing plot developments lured me in.

The story opens with Jess, a broke and alone young woman, who contacts her half-brother Ben, a journalist in Paris, about crashing with him for a while in order to get a fresh start. She’s just left her bartending job in London under less than ideal circumstances and needs to escape and lay low for a while. Although Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked him, he didn’t say no either and she feels everything will look better in Paris. However, when she shows up, Ben is missing and a cryptic voicemail and some other mysterious clues suggest foul play. 

The longer Ben remains missing, the more Jess is provoked to start digging into his situation and the more questions she has. She discovers that Ben was investigating some criminal activity involving some of the building’s nefarious tenants.  Ben’s dysfunctional neighbors are an eclectic group and not particularly friendly or forthcoming either.  As she interviews the neighbors about Ben’s disappearance, she is met with suspicion and hostility from almost everyone. Only one young man shows her any consideration, even though he says he has no useful information for her. She begins to suspect that none of the tenants are as innocent as they want her to believe.  When Jess probes too deeply and reveals the building’s dark and sinister secrets, she finds herself isolated and in danger. As a last resort, she reports her half-brother’s disappearance to the police, however, even they seem reluctant to get involved and seem to have ulterior motives for keeping Ben’s absence uncovered.

As the twisty, yet engrossing plot unravels and the dark secrets are literally unearthed, the reader feels as though they have devoured a delectable meal, especially the last revealing chapters. The Paris Apartment is yet another entertaining and escapist mystery from the talented Lucy Foley. It’s filled with suspense, intensity, a cast of seedy, yet intriguing characters, and enough plot twists to satisfy any avid fan of atmospheric page-turners or murder mysteries. 

Looking for more mayhem from the city of lights; you can read a previous blog about another mystery set in Paris here.

Written by:
Ethan Galvin
Information and Digital Services Librarian

Americans in France: Mastering the Art of French Murder and (not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living

26 Apr

Mastering the Art of French Murder
by Colleen Cambridge
Mastering the Art of French Murder is the first book in a new series by Colleen Cambridge. I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher and Netgalley so I could give you an honest review. The novel is set in post WWII Paris, where Julia Child’s fictional best friend, Tabitha, is living with her Grandfather and “Oncle” Rafe. Fans of Julia and France will be happy to see that details about both were well researched and Cambridge depicts them in loving detail. Tabitha worked in a factory during war time in Michigan and feels at odds with returning to a world where women are expected to wear dresses and simply get married, so takes the opportunity to temporarily relocate to Paris and works as an English tutor, while trying to decide what her next chapter in life will be. She also struggles in the kitchen and looks to her friend for cooking tips, which allows for some fun, light hearted moments amongst a mystery committed with Julia’s own chef knife. I enjoyed Tabitha and her interactions with her family and friends, but they mystery itself is also a clever one that draws from historic details. I’m hoping there will be many more in the charming American in Paris Mystery Series. Cambridge is the pen name of Colleen Gleason who has published a variety of books including the Phyllida Bright Mysteries, another cozy series published under Colleen Cambridge.

If you are left hungering for French food after reading the story, you can check out how to make everything from Boeuf Bourguignon to Chocolate Soufflé from Julia Child in The French Chef Volumes 1-4.

For those looking for books about or including Julia for kids check out my previous post where I helped my son do research about the culinary icon.

(not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living
by Mark Greenside
(not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living is the sequel to Mark Greenside’s memoir I’ll Never be French (no matter what I do). Greenside though now splitting his time between America and France is still learning to fit in. This memoir discusses everything from his struggles with driving, money exchange, healthcare and learning to be more adventurous with food. I was particularly interested in this work since I had spent a summer in Brittany and Paris with my grandparents as a teenager and was eager to see how his experiences were similar or different from my own in comparison to his time in Brittany. Greenside definitely is a bit of a curmudgeon, but in putting forth this version of himself the annoyance or frustrations he feels struggling with another culture play off as humorous and more self-deprecating than offensive towards those he interacts with, which can always be a possibility with travel fiction. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Richard Poe, who brings Greenside’s humorous and at times touching tales to life.

Looking for more Americans in Paris; check out my review of the adorable TV series, Emily in Paris.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

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