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Ah, more Nico Sirsky. I’m finding I can’t quite do without this French police chief, nor without the twists and turns as he tries to figure out the solution. I think “City of Blood” is quite possibly my favourite of the three books in this series (in English) so far.
My enjoyment began even before I started reading, as I chuckled over the French title for this book: Déjeuner sous l’herbe. I can understand why Le French Book renamed it for the English market, as I don’t know if the play on words would be apparent to someone who doesn’t speak French (or who isn’t familiar with the piece “Déjeuner sur l’herbe” by Edouard Manet.) And as the subject of the book was a dinner party buried and then excavated, it made perfect sense.
So, plays on words aside, let me talk about the book.
A French performance artist had a dinner party at La Villette park in Paris thirty years ago, and then buried it, as a sort of time capsule. When the banquet table and such is uncovered, a body (or what’s left of one) is discovered. It is up to Nico Sirsky and his team to figure out who it is, and how it happened. But, as he’s discovering clues, new murders are occurring in the park at La Villette, complicating matters.
It’s always difficult to describe a mystery/thriller novel without giving away too many details. The tension builds, the mind whirls with the possibilities, and the end is satisfying. I’m hoping that Le French Book will put out more from Mme. Molay, as I can’t quite get enough of her books.
When a major Parisian modern art event gets unexpected attention on live TV, Chief of Police Nico Sirsky and his team of elite crime fighters rush to La Villette park and museum complex. There, renowned artist Samuel Cassian is inaugurating the first archeological dig of modern art, twenty-seven years after burying the leftovers of a banquet. In front of reporters from around the world, excavators uncover a skeleton. Could it be the artist’s own son? And does that death have anything to do with the current string of nightclub murders by the “Paris Butcher”? On the site of the French capital’s former slaughterhouses, the investigation takes Nico and France’s top criminal investigation division from artists’ studios to autopsy theaters and nightclubs in hopes of tracking down the murderer who has turned this Paris park into a city of blood. [provided by the publisher]
The Excerpt, from Chapter 1 (Enjoy!)
Footsteps, the stench of a cigar. Chief Nico Sirsky looked up from his files and glanced at his watch: 1:11 p.m. Deputy Police Commissioner Michel Cohen, his boss, walked into the office without knocking.
“If I were you, I’d turn on the news,” Cohen advised. No hello. It was an order. Nico grabbed the remote control and pointed it at the television. The news anchor appeared. Black eyeliner and smoky shadow accentuated her eyes. Not a hair was out of place. In a panel at the bottom of the screen, a reporter was clutching his microphone.
“Just watch,” Cohen said.
Directly behind the reporter was the Géode, the gigantic steel globe at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. The huge Cité complex in northeast Paris encompassed a science, technology, and cultural center, a museum, and much more. It attracted visitors from around the world. Nico raised the volume.
“I can only imagine the consternation there,” the newscaster lamented, a touch theatrically.
“Absolutely, Élise. This story has gripped people in France and beyond.”
“Arnaud, please bring those viewers who have just tuned in up to speed on this horrible discovery. I must warn those watching that this may not be appropriate for young children.”
The camera panned to an open pit next to the Canal de l’Ourcq in the Parc de la Villette.
“Here, at this exact spot, archaeologists, artists, and others started an extraordinary excavation three days ago,” the reporter said. “Now that dig has taken a strange and ghastly twist.”
The camera zoomed in slowly on the pit. It was pos- sible to make out dirt-covered tables, dishes, and bottles. The shot then turned into a full close-up of an inconceiv- able sight.
“You see what all the commotion’s about?” Cohen asked.
Several men in orange vests were pushing back spec- tators on the Prairie du Cercle meadow and forming a security perimeter.
The news anchor was talking. “Arnaud, we can hear the sirens. Is that the police?”
“Yes, Élise, officers are arriving now.”
Those were the local precinct officers, who would guard the crime scene and take down witness accounts. Normally, they would then call in the public prosecu- tor and his underlings—“the devil and his minions,” as Cohen liked to put it. That was in theory. But this was not a normal situation. The television news had already tipped everyone off, and Nico was betting that Christine Lormes, the public prosecutor, was putting on her coat at that very minute.
“Looks like we’re going to be on the news,” Cohen said with a note of sarcasm. “We’re set to meet the prosecutor in the courtyard. Which squad are you putting on this?”
Nico could forget about his sandwich. The week was off to a bad start.
About the Author
Called “the French Michael Connelly,” Frédérique Molay graduated from France’s prestigious Science Po and began her career in politics and the French administration. She worked as chief of staff for the deputy mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and then was elected to the local government in Saône-et-Loire. Meanwhile, she spent her nights pursuing a passion for writing she had nourished since she wrote her first novel at the age of eleven.
The first in the Paris Homicide series, The 7th Woman, won France’s most prestigious crime fiction award and went on to become an international bestseller, allowing Molay to dedicate her life to writing and raising her three children.
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About the Translator
Jeffrey Zuckerman was born in the Midwest and lives in New York. He has worked as an editorial assistant, a lifeguard, and a psychology researcher. Now an editor for Music and Literature Magazine, he also freelances for several companies, ranging from the pharmaceutical industry to old-fashioned book publishing. He holds a degree in English with honors from Yale University, where he studied English literature, creative writing, and translation.
Thanks for the opportunity and the post.I ‘ve heard much praise for it lately and look forward to reading it.
Lucky4750 ( at) aol (dot) com
Make sure you use the giveaway form above to get your information in and your chance to win 🙂 Best of luck!
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Thanks for your enthusiastic review, enjoying it myself right now! Like you, I regret the loss of the pun in the title. But as a translator myself, I’m discovering translating titles is a very hard work! But maybe they could have done something with other famous references, just one is coming right now to my mind: As I Lay Eating
That could have been a good title too! (if a bit long)
At least the French title was listed, so those in the know could appreciate it 😉
Thanks for this review. So glad you like the series. Shh… a fourth is in the works.
That is fantastic news 😀
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