A Review, a Delicious Excerpt, & a Giveaway! Frédérique Molay’s “City of Blood”

Giveaway!

At the bottom of the post is a widget to enter to win a copy of City of Blood. (US winners can choose a paperback or ebook, international winners receive an ebook.)

The City of Blood coverMy Review

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.

The Synopsis

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?”

“Kriven’s.”
Nico could forget about his sandwich. The week was off to a bad start.

About the Author
Crossing The Line-Frederique MolayCalled “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.

The Giveaway!

The City of Blood banner

Guest blogging: INSPIRED BY A PROSTITUTE

Today I’m guest blogging over at the Alliterative Allomorph, run by author Jessica Bell.

In a converted railway station, crowded with visitors, I first saw Edouard Manet’s ‘Olympia’ in the flesh. So to speak.

It blew my mind.

A quick bit of backstory: I took a Fine Arts degree at university, so to see the ‘Olympia’ (and other works at the Musée d’Orsay) in person…it was a bit like a Christian pilgrim catching their first glimpse of the Sancta Camisa at the cathedral in Chartres.

Read more…

The Unabashed Francophile Post, Part 6: Musée d’Orsay

http://www.flickr.com/photos/justaslice/3477561971/

I went to Paris to go to the Musée d’Orsay. Okay, so I went for a few other things as well (food, coffee, Shakespeare & Co. …), but the Musée d’Orsay was first on my list for museums. Though the Louvre is larger and its collection diverse, the Musée d’Orsay enchanted me.

The museum houses a massive collection of Impressionist era art: Rodin’s ‘Porte de l’Enfer‘ (The Gates of Hell), Manet’s ‘Olympia‘ and ‘Le déjeuner sur l’herbe‘, Degas’s ‘Dans un café‘ (L’absinthe) and ‘Petite danseuse de quatorze ans‘, and more than I could ever truly appreciate in a single visit.

I have an especial fondness for Impressionist art, due to its (general) lack of religiosity and its dramatic use of colour and composition. My favourite art history class at uni was the one that dealt with the Impressionist (and later) period. To see these famous works up close and in person – there are no words for my awe.  Degas’s ‘Dans un café‘ (L’absinthe) had struck me with its use of the diagonal composition in the foreground of the painting, something which immediately attracts the eye.

Seeing Rodin’s ‘Gates of Hell’ up close and personal again was fantastic. I’d originally seen a cast of the Gates at the Rodin sculpture garden at Stanford University in California, and it was a treat to see them again in Paris. The Gates are my favourite of Rodin’s sculptures; all the detail could keep me occupied for hours.

The museum itself is a wonder to see – housed in a former train station, the light and dramatic arches are stunning. I photographed the header at the top of my blog in the museum. From the walkway near the clock, you can see through the center of the clock over Paris, including Montmartre and the Eglise Sacre Coeur on the hill. I would have liked to spend an entire day in d’Orsay, but I only had a few hours. It’ll be first on my list of museums to visit when I next go to Paris.