Books by J. Robert Janes

THE SLEEPER by J. Robert Janes
Released: Dec. 15, 2015

"Janes, author of the prolific St. Cyr & Kohler World War II police procedurals (Carnival, 2014, etc.), weaves a subtle, character-driven plot, stylishly written and long on twists."
A refugee from Nazi Germany finds that he can't escape the shadow of war or the insidious reach of the Third Reich. Read full book review >
CARNIVAL by J. Robert Janes
Released: May 13, 2014

"The arch chemistry between the two competitive sleuths, the smattering of German and French, and the measured unfolding of the well-appointed plot all give St-Cyr and Kohler's 15th case a faint flavor of Poirot."
One suicide is a tragedy, but two suicides definitely require an investigation. Read full book review >
KALEIDOSCOPE by J. Robert Janes
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

"A kaleidoscope of brutal, constantly shifting patterns and alliances, with no easy relief for St-Cyr and Kohler, who are immediately packed off to another case in Lyon when this one ends. First published, like Mannequin (1998), in Great Britain (1993). "
Was the killing of Madame Anne-Marie Buemondi on a hillside in Provence a few days before Christmas 1942 personal or political? Her husband, assistant director of the fine arts school in Cannes, not only had access to the antique crossbow that killed his wife but was sleeping with her latest lover, young Angelique; her former lover, weaver Viviane Darnot, was consumed with jealousy; and one of her twin daughters, an epileptic, needed restraints to keep her from violence. In addition, Jean-Paul Delphane, a member of the Deuxième Bureau now colluding with the Nazis, drops manipulative hints that Madame had been part of a Resistance escape route and that her killer might have been someone averse to the work of the maquis. While Gestapo Haupsturmführer Hermann Kohler toils under a Nazi ultimatum that he uncover the Resistance fighters within four days or every man and boy in the village will be executed, his wartime investigating partner, Sûreté Chief Inspector Jean-Louis St-Cyr, must reconsider his own and Delphane's prewar links to the death of a Chamonix financier with ties to Viviane, the twins' birth, and Madame's desperate need for cash just before her death. Only after many more fatalities will a bleeding Kohler and an exhausted St-Cyr meet on the hillside with the collaborator, the weaver, and one of the twins to learn of more deaths and cause still another. Read full book review >
DOLLMAKER by J. Robert Janes
Released: May 1, 2001

"An edgy tale replete with searing instances of wartime terror and the desperation it drives people to."
Winter 1943. Under orders from Admiral Doenitz, the offbeat detecting duo of Gestapo Hauptsturmführer Herman Kohler and Sûreté Chief Inspector Jean-Louis St-Cyr (Kaleidoscope, 2001, etc.) travel to Brittany in Occupied France to investigate the murder of a widely loathed shopkeeper. Préfet Kerjean has arrested U-boat captain Johann Kaestnes for the crime, but Paulette, the shopkeeper's abused daughter, announces that her father knew a secret about the relationship between stunning Madame Charbonneau and the Préfet and the Captain. Madame's stepdaughter hates her, her concert-pianist husband is dementedly digging up artifacts in the hills, and bits of an antique doll belonging to her family have been found near the shopkeeper's corpse. Could that doll have anything to do with the missing funds the shopkeeper and Kaestnes were going to use to open a doll-making business? While Kohler concentrates on the German confederates of Kaestnes, St-Cyr inquires into the disappearance of Kerjean's son—and runs afoul of a protective husband, clandestine shipping, and blackout restrictions on the reading of old press clippings. Palming a cyanide tablet conveniently left available, St-Cyr succeeds in stopping a suicide, but Kohler is too late to rescue Paulette and her wheelchair-bound mother. Nazis loom. A Jew is uncovered. In the end, Kohler and St-Cyr barely have time to absorb the tragic resolution of the case before they're assigned to yet another murder. Read full book review >
MANNEQUIN by J. Robert Janes
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

The same day (Christmas Eve, 1942) robbers steal 18 million francs from the main Paris branch of the CrÇdit Lyonnais and kill a teller before making their escape, an even more horrific crime is being committed around the corner from the bank: Joanne Labelle, answering an ad for models of a suspiciously specific physical type, is lured into an abandoned house and vanishes, along with all the house's furnishings—except for an explicit series of photographs suggesting that Joanne is only the latest in a series of 14 victims. The Gestapo is understandably more interested in the money than the girl, but Chief Inspector Jean-Louis St-Cyr and his partner Hermann Kohler (Salamander, p. 618, etc.), convinced that the two crimes are connected, persist in putting tactless questions to the well-connected family of banker AndrÇ-Philippe de Brisson and the even-better-connected dress-shop owner Denise St. Onge. Soon they're walking a tightrope between the wrath of the Gestapo and the suspicions of the Resistance, till eventually they come to the attention of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, who has no intention of letting them disrupt an auction of looted artworks in which he has a special interest. First published in Britain in 1994, this case plunges the unlikely heroes into a world of sordid intrigue as quickly as any of their other eight. This time, though, the catalogue of perversions may be a little too conscientious for all but the most battle-hardened readers. Read full book review >
SALAMANDER by J. Robert Janes
Released: June 10, 1998

Two days before Christmas 1942, some 450 citizens of Lyon crowd into the local cinema to watch La Bàte humaine—a little proletarian crime drama to take their minds off the war. And before the film is over, a fire has claimed the lives of 183 of them. Visiting fire chief Karl Johann Weidling tells the investigating officers called in from Paris, the SuràtÇ's Jean-Louis St-Cyr and the Gestapo's Hermann Kohler, that the fire has all the earmarks of the work of the Salamander, who set three smaller blazes in prewar Germany before hitting the jackpot in Lyon. Despite the horrifying numbers of the dead—including the bishop's personal secretary, a priest adorned with a suspiciously valuable bejewelled cross—Kohler and St-Cyr are drawn to three other casualties who weren't even in the theater: Madeleine Aurelle, found dead in the apartment behind the theater; and Claudine Bertrand and her mother, gassed in La Belle êpoque, the neighboring brothel. It's Claudine, in fact, whose "very special" perversion holds the key to the case. But each of the leading suspects, as in Janes's three previous Occupation mysteries (Sandman, 1997, etc.), has close enough ties to sinister higher powers—in this case, to Klaus Barbie, of the Hotel Terminus—to keep the atmosphere alternately ablaze and achill. The most brilliantly unsettling of this fine series to date. Read full book review >
SANDMAN by J. Robert Janes
Released: Nov. 14, 1997

Four schoolgirls have already been murdered when Jean-Louis St-Cyr and his Gestapo colleague Hermann Kohler are called to occupied Paris to investigate a fifth. But this time the crime scene reveals subtle and disturbing differences that make them wonder if this crime was really the Sandman's work after all. The girl who died in a birdcage in the Bois de Boulogne was stabbed by a knitting needle, but by a different-sized needle, and stabbed in a different place, than the first four. Although she's wearing the disordered clothing of munitions heiress NÇnette Vernet, the corpse is actually NÇnette's friend AndrÇe Noireau, orphaned when her parents went abroad on a visit to Coventry and never returned. As for NÇnette herself, she might as well be orphaned, since she's caught not only in the European war but in the more intimate battle between her bullying father and her scheming mother. Perhaps that's why she's disappeared, along with her companion, university student Liline Chambert. Or perhaps her disappearance is connected to the traces of SS involvement—from the presence of the Kommandant of Paris in the birdcage within minutes of the murder to the commerce at a nearby Germans-only brothel to the vile paintings of a sentimental Attack Leader that St-Cyr and Kohler keep tripping over no matter how hard they try to overlook them. As elliptical and understated as any of Louis and Hermann's cases (Stonekiller, p. 592, etc.), though its crescendo of ugly secrets marks it as one of their most searching. Read full book review >
STONEKILLER by J. Robert Janes
Released: May 20, 1997

On the eve of the First World War, so the story goes, a young prehistoric researcher and the girl with whom he was seeking a trysting place at Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne found a cave full of fabulous paintings to rival those of Lascaux. But Henri- Georges Fillioux was reported killed in the war, and the girl, declared his wife only four years after his death, has grown to obscure middle age with only her memories, duly commemorated each year on the anniversary of their discovery, as consolation. Now, in the depths of 1942, Ernestine Fillioux has been savagely murdered and mutilated with a stone axe—just as a Franco-German team of filmmakers and prehistoric consultants is putting the finishing touches on Moment of Discovery, a movie dramatizing her dazzling find. The questions for SñretÇ Chief Inspector Jean- Louis St-Cyr and Gestapo storm-trooper Hermann Kohler, investigating under the watchful eye of the Fuehrer's top ministers: Why was Ernestine Fillioux carrying poisonous mushrooms in her picnic basket? Had her daughter's father returned from the dead? Were the cave paintings a hoax? And why is the story of the Discovery Cave so important to Hitler's war effort that the film's getting rushed into release despite the obvious instability—and the possibly homicidal conflicts—among the cast and crew? The most subdued of St-Cyr's and Kohler's three outings (Carousel, 1993, etc.) keeps the suspense burning slowly but with mounting power in their most successful collaboration yet. Read full book review >
CAROUSEL by J. Robert Janes
Released: May 25, 1993

A strangled young woman, her room awash in blood, is only the beginning of the horrors that await SñretÇ Inspector Jean-Louis St-Cyr and his Gestapo watchdog Hermann Kohler (Mirage). Christianne Baudelaire, who was raped after death, is surrounded by two dozen forged Roman coins—one of them pressed into her forehead—and has a rubber-banded stuffed canary in her dresser drawer. Outside, there are two more corpses—those of a carousel operator roped to his own contraption, and a Gestapo corporal whose murder requires the taking of 30 hostages who'll be killed unless Louis and Hermann can follow a twisted trail of prostitution, collaboration, and family treachery reaching back 30 years. The mystery is ladled on generously—but Janes's perverse talent for mangling even the simplest expository scenes will discourage all but the hardiest fans of WW II intrigue. Read full book review >
MIRAGE by J. Robert Janes
Released: Oct. 17, 1992

Occupied France, 1942. The apparently accidental death of a pointedly anonymous young man in Fontainebleau Forest brings together an improbable pair of investigators: Gestapo Officer Hermann Kohler and Jean-Louis St-Cyr of the SñretÇ. Under threats of reassignment and deportation by blustering Gestapo General Ackermann, the pair uses a handful of clues—a beaded purse found near the body, a single woman's footprint in the snow—to trace the victim's ties to the fashionable nightclub Mirage, and, through fabled chanteuse Gabrielle Arcuri, to the landed, troubled ThÇriault family and the not-so-holy Abbey of St. Gregory. As if sex, money, and religion weren't enough, Kohler and St- Cyr are menaced at every turn by both the Gestapo and the Resistance- -and by revelations that lead straight to Ackermann himself. Everything but the kitchen sink, with enough climaxes to satisfy Shere Hite. It's hard to imagine what Janes (The Alice Factor, etc.) is leaving over for the projected series starring Kohler and St-Cyr. Read full book review >