Friday, August 12, 2016

Books Set in Paris


I have had the good fortune to go to Paris two times in my life, and I loved that city both times. The art museums, the book stalls by the river, the cafés with outdoor tables and delicious wines, and musicians playing accordions in the park . . . I could go on and on.















I'd love to go to Paris again if the fates are kind. Until then, I satisfy myself with books set in Paris. Cara Black's mystery series leaps to mind:



I always consider a new Aimee LeDuc mystery my free trip to Paris. I haven't read the whole series, although I'm doing my best. I read too many of them to review them, but a few years ago I discovered Murder in the Bastille, and  while it isn't Book I of the series, it was my introduction. Actually, any one of them is a stand alone mystery, although, once hooked, it's fun to keep track of Aimée's life. She's a private eye for white collar techie crime, but keeps getting dragged into murder cases instead. Single, she 's a bit on the wild side with a penchant for bad boys.  Cara Black knows Paris inside and out and places each new mystery in a different neighborhood. Because Aimée grew up in Paris, naturally she has little snippets of memory about buildings she passes or bridges or streets she traverses, and so in a completely non-intrusive way, the reader picks up scraps of French history and art history while Aimée chases or runs from the bad guys.  Cara Black's website is equally interesting: Press HERE and go take a peek.

Right now I'm reading two different books set in Paris. And, since I seem to be on a book review kick these days, I'll share them with you.

One is fiction--Extraordinary People, a mystery by Peter May. A forensic expert, Enzo Macleod, has made a wager with a police chief and a préfect that, with modern forensic techniques, he can solve a cold case. Ten years earlier Jacques Gaillard mysteriously disappeared. Foul play was suspected, but there were no leads. With the help of a journalist, Macleod uncovers clues that were missed in earlier. investigations. He (like author Peter May) knows his way around Paris, too, and his setting details make you feel as though you are there in the City of Light, not as a tourist, but in a day-to-day way, with all the local landmarks being a familiar part of your universe. His writing is superb: interesting, well-drawn characters, and good story movement that never bogs down. Naturally I'm going to have to find more of this series to feed both my Paris habit and my mystery habit, because I love a good mystery. And, as you can tell, "I Love Paris."



The second book I'm reading (I'm about halfway through) is nonfiction. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, by Thad Carhart, is just delightful. It's a memoir of sorts. I say it that way, because, while it starts out recounting how Carhart discovered the shop and what was inside, it becomes an engaging share about the world of pianos in general--their history, how they are made, why they are made that way, etc. And it introduces you to life in a quiet, modest Parisian neighborhood with its local customs and traditions and ways of looking at the world. Carhart noticed the shop for weeks and weeks while walking his children to school, then finally worked up his courage to go inside. (He had once studied piano and had a softness in his heart for pianos and piano music.) In the window, it looked like a piano tuning and repair shop, and so it seemed when he first went inside. But the atelier he glimpsed through the back door of the shop held further mysteries. Really, you must read this.

How about you? Have you discovered some new good reads lately? If so, please share titles. I love to read a good book and usually find my books by word of mouth or hanging out at the library or book stores.

10 comments:

S.P. Bowers said...

Oooo, those sound good. I'll have to put them on the TBR list. Thanks for the suggestions!

I've never been to Paris, it's on the list of places I want to see.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, S. P. - These really feel like a private tip to Paris. If you like mysteries or travel books, I think you will like these.

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

I love books set in Paris! I'll be adding these to my to read list! Thanks. They all sound excellent.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya. As I read on, Peter May's book includes other towns and cities as well as Paris, like Toulouse and and Cahors, but he puts you right in each of these places. It's like a free trip to France.

Sandra Cox said...

Paris twice....lovely.
Murder on the Quai sound intriguing.

Mark Noce said...

A great setting for sure:) I like Cara Black's work, and I'm actually reading some non-fiction about Paris right now:)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Sandra, trust me, they are all intriguing. Consider Aimee LeDuc your tour guide on a trip through a Paris neighborhood. Of course, you'll stumble over a few dead bodies. But, hey . . . it's in Paris!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi. Mark, thanks for stopping by. What are the titles of our nonfiction Paris reads? I'm curious.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I can't think of any books set in Paris I've read recently. Your picks all look really intriguing. One of my favorite Woody Allen movies, Midnight in Paris, has absolutely stunning scenes of the city. I like watching it just to absorb Paris in the rain!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Karen, I didn't see that movie when it came out. I don't get to movies much when they are in the theaters; wait for them to come out o video. But you just reminded me that this is a movie I really want to see. (Time to go look for it!) I heard it was terrific.