The Paris Librarian: Mark Pryor
Within the annals of this library you will find many who will take care of the books, the letters and special donations that make this library stand out. Paul Rogers is the director of the American Library in Paris and his friend Hugo Marston is coming to visit him there. Hugo is head of security at the American Embassy in Paris and worked several functions there for the ambassador and Rogers his contact. Hugo realized that there is much more to his friend Paul that meets the eye and checking into his past yielded some interesting and colorful information. Working for the Ambassador it was necessary to learn more about Rogers and his past. Going to meet his friend was a priority as he wanted to attend a special sale of rare books and hoped to attain a first edition of In Cold Blood signed by the author. The price had yet to be decided and Rogers said he would hold it until the following morning when the sale would begin. But, some things do not come to pass and entering the library and realizing his friend did not make the appointed 11 A.M. time for their meeting Hugo became worried and asked that the assistant come and allow him into Paul’s basement office where he does his writing for his novels.
Miki and Merlyn are Hugo’s two friends and the third is Tom. A unique group with diverse personalities that is interesting and quite odd. Their discussion centered around Isabelle Severin who was thought to have something o do with the French Resistance and was possibly a spy who passed on secrets to the Americans, British and even the Resistance. “ The story goes that she was delivering secrets to a Resistance cell in 1944 and two Gestapo officers showed up and she pretended to seduce on using his own dagger to kill him. Just where are these papers and the dagger is where the controversy for this novel begins as Hugo finds himself caught in a maze of lies, deceits and webs that are so tangled and so convoluted he might never find his way out. Digging deeper into the origin of the papers, into his friend’s life and learning that Miki wants a have at it regarding the papers to write a story about Severin. As head of security at he US Embassy, Hugo has access to the library and other areas including at times working with the police to solve cases.
Michael Hartmuth is the assistant director of the library and when Paul does not show up for their meeting he is concerned and needs him to go down into the basement to find him. Hartmuth disappears into the room but stops short of the handle on the door leaning against it but why? finding Paul’s body and having it look like a heart attack was the work of a very smart killer. Looking into it with the police they do not seem to think it was murder but something gnaws at Hugo and he is not going to stop until he gets his answers. Seeing Sarah Gregory, Paul’s girlfriend enlightens him a little but her reaction is startling and seeing someone there with her adds to his wondering what is really going and is she cheating on his friend? The end result is not going to bring about anything good as she learn more about Paul and Sarah’s relationship their living conditions and how that might change the perspective about what is about to follow. Hoping to learn more from her Hugo never expected that the killer would strike again and this time at Sarah making it look like a suicide.
Lieutenant Camille Lerens has been given the case and although Hugo is not part of the force for some reason she allows him the leeway to come along and question the witnesses. Calling her directly when Paul’s body was found and then with Sarah’s the lieutenant at first discounts that fact that Hugo might be right and that it is just a heart attack and a suicide. Doctor Sprengelmeyer assesses the bodies and of course realizes that they are dead but Hugo wants the CSU techs to come and go over the crime scenes. Added in as he is going down to the basement with Hartmuth he meets another staff member of the library Michelle Juneau. But, the real interest is in the collection of Severin and although Miki knows she cannot gain access to it she manages to try and convince Hugo to allow her to see some of what is in the library basement. Things get heated as he goes along with the police, meets Sarah before her demise and learns about the book sale from Juneau who seems more concerned with the sale than the death of the director. Allain Benoit is the man found with Sarah and immediately suspicions air as he just might be suspect because of his relationship with Sarah. But, Hugo is determined to meet Isabelle and learn more about the collection and what he does is priceless and how he and his girlfriend Claudia trick her into seeing them is priceless. When they learn that Severin moved to a nursing facility and they understand her condition and why things still don’t fall into place but Hugo feels that he is missing something but what? Nicole Anise is another employee of the library who is assisting with the collection that has everyone talking but as the bodies begin to fall with two then a third following the air gets filled with more mist, it’s hard to tell who is lying and who he can trust as someone close to him decides to take matters into her own hands, visit Isabelle and winds up arrested. But, when Hugo and Claudia manage to visit her first, seeing the dagger on her desk and taking a picture of it, he begins to wonder if what they are saying about her past is true and if this has a link to the murders. Claire Rogers is Paul’s mother who appears to be upset by his death. At first glance you can tell that she too has dementia as does Isabelle making it hard to tell what both are saying that is fact or fiction. Meeting Claudia and Hugo ignites Isabelle’s memory and she is willing to share her memories realizing that she once knew Claudia’s father.
What I really enjoyed was the French expressions and excited that I did not need my dictionary to translate them. The author places them in just the right places and it adds to the flavor of the novel giving it a more authentic Paris touch. As Michael Harmuth comes to see Claire Rogers and states his condolences for her loss you being to wonder about her understanding, just how she fits into this plot and the significance of her garden. But getting in trouble for seeing Severin with her nurses permission and then accused of going back leads the police to someone within his group that might be guilty. When Alain is found dead and the evidence finally points to three murders will the police finally realize that someone does not want Hugo to put it all together. The author recounts their meeting with Alain and how he fits into the deaths of Sarah and Paul but who in the library is guilty and what part does he play? The tox report comes in and the murder weapon you might say is identified but just how did Paul come in contact with it and why no one else? A murderer quite clever and hiding in plain sight as this person appears to be concerned yet has a heart of greed and stone. Why was Alain in the basement and why was he working with Paul? What was Miki holding back and why was she now a suspect in the murders? With several suspects at large Hugo has to narrow it down to the one person that would benefit the most from all three deaths and why? What about Isabelle why didn’t she have a copy of her will? Did she really lose it or did someone take it hoping she would not remember?
Just how he figures it out is the work of author Mark Pryor and of course Hugo himself as the ending is quite unique and hoping they capture the killer in time will take all the ingenuity and intelligence Hugo can must as he and Claudia find themselves possible victims too. The Paris Librarian: Paul Rogers why did he have to go? What was his connection to two others and would you want to work in this library?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine