The pseudonymous Izner creates a tapestry of Parisian portraits and name-drops like crazy (Bernhardt, Anatole France,...

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THE MONTMARTRE INVESTIGATION

A single red shoe draws Parisian bookseller Victor Legris into another tantalizing murder puzzle.

The young ladies of Mademoiselle Bontemps' boarding school look forward to every outing with breathless anticipation. Love-struck Élisa contemplates a secret rendezvous with her admirer Gaston, and stiff Monsieur Mori shares with the headmistress his concern for the safety of his goddaughter Iris. The City of Light bustles with activity and romance in 1891, its streets crisscrossed by the "purveyor of milk" Grégoire Mercier and many others. Among these is a nameless man with obsessively mercurial habits and deadly intentions. Meantime, Victor spends too much time away from his book shop in pursuit of Tasha, a vibrant and flirtatious painter. His absence leaves his assistant Jojo with the solitude for a more melancholy romantic reverie. His mother Madame Pignot, a costermonger, deplores his thin, pale, unshaven appearance and begs him to eat. Then a strangely attired man brings a lady's slipper decorated with pearls to the bookshop, whose address is jammed inside "like an inner sole." Could there be a connection to the young woman found strangled and disfigured by acid at Killer's Crossing? Victor and Jojo can't resist finding out.

The pseudonymous Izner creates a tapestry of Parisian portraits and name-drops like crazy (Bernhardt, Anatole France, Toulouse-Lautrec). Legris's third case (The Disappearance at Père-Lachaise, 2009, etc.) is a bagatelle, but an attractive one for those as stimulated as Victor by the city's joie de vivre.  

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-38376-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

CILKA'S JOURNEY

In this follow-up to the widely read The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018), a young concentration camp survivor is sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in a Russian gulag.

The novel begins with the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. In the camp, 16-year-old Cecilia "Cilka" Klein—one of the Jewish prisoners introduced in Tattooist—was forced to become the mistress of two Nazi commandants. The Russians accuse her of collaborating—they also think she might be a spy—and send her to the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia. There, another nightmarish scenario unfolds: Cilka, now 18, and the other women in her hut are routinely raped at night by criminal-class prisoners with special “privileges”; by day, the near-starving women haul coal from the local mines in frigid weather. The narrative is intercut with Cilka’s grim memories of Auschwitz as well as her happier recollections of life with her parents and sister before the war. At Vorkuta, her lot improves when she starts work as a nurse trainee at the camp hospital under the supervision of a sympathetic woman doctor who tries to protect her. Cilka also begins to feel the stirrings of romantic love for Alexandr, a fellow prisoner. Though believing she is cursed, Cilka shows great courage and fortitude throughout: Indeed, her ability to endure trauma—as well her heroism in ministering to the sick and wounded—almost defies credulity. The novel is ostensibly based on a true story, but a central element in the book—Cilka’s sexual relationship with the SS officers—has been challenged by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center and by the real Cilka’s stepson, who says it is false. As in Tattooist, the writing itself is workmanlike at best and often overwrought.

Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-26570-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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