Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Paris Librarian: A Hugo Marston Novel by Mark Pryor

The Paris Librarian: A Hugo Marston Novel. Mark Pryor. Prometheus Books Seventh Street Books. August 2016. 270 pp.  ISBN#: 9781633881778.

Hugo Marston is a book collector of first editions but also a security officer at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France.  His friend, Paul Rogers, calls Hugo to tell him about a signed first edition of a Truman Capote novel.  Imagine Hugo’s shock when he proceeds to the American Library in Paris to find Paul Rogers dead in a locked room.  While there is an ongoing investigation there’s much annoyance from other library personnel as it seems obvious that Paul finally succumbed to his heart condition.  But Hugo’s innate sensitivity believes there’s more than meets the eye and the rest of the novel follows his instincts and investigation, once again displaying Hugo’s skills and talent as a former FBI profiler.

The story turns to a mysterious case of the actress Isabelle Severin who wrote letters during WWII.  Some of those letters are public and some are private but the fascinating part of this mystery lies in the fact that she might have been part of the Resistance movement during WWII and might have even murdered an SS Officer with a dagger.  So why is that such a secret and who would want the contents of the letters to disappear?  And what does that have to do with the death of Paul Rogers?
The story isn’t that complex but reading how Hugo Marston again (this is the sixth novel in this series) intelligently explores the facts and rumors behind Paul’s demise.  He always displays a remarkable calmness even as he gets closer and closer to the killer and the story behind the murder.

Mark Pryor excels at good old-fashioned mystery storytelling, gradually leading the reader from simple scenes into intriguing clues all the way to a very satisfying conclusion.  Part of that success lies in careful characterization of Hugo and other supportive and opposing characters in the story.  All in all, a riveting and intriguing international mystery sure to please mystery and thriller fans and those new to the genre.  Nicely done, Mark Pryor!

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