Monday, 9 December 2013

Book review: Paris Requiem - Lisa Appignanesi

Paris Requiem


The blurb.
Paris 1899. Capital of the crime passionnel. The city is electric with excitement. Preparations for the universal exhibition and the dawn of a new century have hit fever pitch. But the sensual spectacle of the belle époque is overshadowed by racial and social tensions, as the Dreyfus affair unleashes a riotous surge of anti-semitism. Into its midst enters James Norton, an American charged with bringing home his brother Raf and their high-spirited sister Ellie. When the body of the beautiful Jewish woman Raf loves turns up in the Seine, and her sister is discovered in the sprawling Salpétière asylum, the siblings are drawn into a dark web of violence, madness and death. As James reluctantly tackles his mission, it emerges that he and Paris share a history - one that is not altogether unlinked to the turbulent present that now confronts him.

This gripping psychological period thriller, is written in chilling top form.

My opinion.
I'll start by quoting Sarah Dunant "Master story telling from a mistress of fiction". 

This was an incredible book. From the very beginning Lisa Appignanesi brings Paris anno 1899 to live in such a brilliant way you feel like you've been there, like you were actually there the moment it all happened. The amount of detail and study that went into this story is just mind blowing.

James Norton wasn't the easiest character to relate too, in my opinion, but this turned out to work in my favor I think: not liking and/or understanding him immediately made me more skeptical and read more attentively. There's so much detail in both surroundings and characters that it's easy too miss when you're too excited to start your detective work.

When James Norton starts his personal investigation he's determined to "solve the case" and to take his brother and sister back home with him; the sooner the better. His investigation however meets one dead end after another and every new clue brings another new mystery, up to the point where it's just one big confusing, unsolved mess. Just when you're thinking things will never be solved or you think you have figured it out, Lisa Appignanesi surprises you, time and time again. Nothing in the characters' lives, nor in the case goes like you expected them to.

Paris Requiem is a brilliant psychological thriller, engaging from the moment you start reading until well after the moment you've finished it. 



Many thanks to Arcadia Books for providing me with a review copy. 
I'm so very lucky to have gotten the chance to read Paris Requiem.

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