20 March 2009

The Paris Enigma (Pablo de Santis)

Hmm hmm hmm. This is another one of those books I've been selling like crazy to customers and telling them I loved it, best book I've read all year etc. without actually having read it. However, unlike The Good Mayor, I ended up a) a bit disappointed and b) realising I've been lying to my customers. (I feel I should add in here that I do usually read books before recommending them, its just I haven't always read the book I want to recommend... I hope this doesn't call into question my reputation as a bookseller. I really do read things..I swear!)

The Paris Enigma is set during the World's Fair in Paris in 1889, (the fair which the Eiffel Tower was built for) and if you know me at all, the fact that it is Paris in the 19th Century should tip you off as to why I picked it up. For the World's Fair the twelve greatest detectives in the world are coming together to talk about their greatest cases. The group is known as...The Twelve Detectives. Right. Catchy!

A few nights before the grand opening of the fair, one of the detectives is killed leaving the remaining sleuths to solve the mystery of his death.

On first glances, this book could not be more perfect for me: Paris, mystery, historical fiction, cover that looks like a vintage poster... Being a bit of an Agatha Christie girl, I went into it thinking (hoping?) it would perhaps be a Parisian take on And Then There Were None. The problem was, when the mystery had been solved (with a few more bodies turning up along the way) I was seriously underwhelmed. I am used to the fantastic Poirot, where everyone is the killer/I am the killer/no-one is the killer and it all comes out in such a clever way that no-one else in the world aside from Poirot could have figured it out (except perhaps Marlowe....). At the end of The Paris Enigma, I was left thinking, well I could have figured that out. None of the ingenuity I was expecting.

So I guess the moral of this story seems to be if you want a good mystery* go for Christie.


*I say mystery because I do not read modern 'crime' novels which are way too slasher-y and thriller-y and violent for my poor, feeble sensibilities.
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