Book review and giveaway: The City of Blood – I love France #130


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The City of Blood

The City of Blood

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this ebook for free
in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated
for this post as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
The City of Blood
Frédérique Molay
PublisherLe French Book
Pub. Date: 1/20/2015
ISBN:  978-1939474186

Pages:  212
Genre:  police procedural / thriller
Source: Received
from the publisher for a
virtual book tour on France Book ToursGoodreads

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

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After reading Crossing The Line last year, it was real fun meeting again chief of police Nico Sirsky and his team in The City of Blood. Famous French author Frédérique Molay has a real knack for making her thrillers irresistible page-turners, plus you learn a lot about Paris, here about Parc de la Villette, and a rather unique form of art.

“Daniel Spoerri is a Swiss artist and writer born 1930 in Romania. He is best known for his “snare-pictures,” a type of assemblage or object art, in which he captures a group of objects, such as the remains of meals eaten by individuals, including the plates, silverware and glasses, all of which are fixed to the table or board, which is then displayed on a wall.” (source: wikipedia).
His work inspired this thriller: 30 years ago, artist Samuel Cassian invited 120 guests (artists, journalists, politicians) to put an end to his “snare-pictures”. He decided to have all the remains of their meal buried in a park, to be dug up later, as a time capsule. Now time has come for the excavation, but among the remains and the silverware, a body is found.

Samuel’s son disappeared just a week after that special reception, so could it be his body? But why? And what could possibly be the connection with the series of murders of young homosexuals happening now in the same park, if there’s any?

I really loved the suspense, as suspects multiply with each new murder and each new clue.

But on top of the plot, what I really enjoy in Molay’s books is the details and the ambiance. Here, she did an amazing job with the setting of Parc de la Villette. From 1867 (until Napoleon III) until 1974, the area was a center of slaughterhouses, a so-called City of Blood. Then it became a wasteland until it was converted into a park for leisure, culture, and recreation, currently very alive.
I guess that was a good idea to use this as the title of this thriller, but the French title was really cool: Déjeuner sous l’herbe (The Luncheon under the Grass), awesome for the meal buried and great play on words with the famous painting by Monet, The Luncheon on the Grass. It pains me that maybe the translator thought American lovers of thrillers would not have enough culture to get it. As a translator myself, I wondered what other solution I could have chosen, and I came up with a cultural reference that should for sure resonate with American readers: As I Lay Eating. What do you think?

But to go back to the book, there’s a very interesting double plot going on with Anya, Nico’s mother. She suffered a heart attack. Through this ordeal, he experiences the fear and pain that Samuel may be going through, if it happens that the dead man was his son. Nico makes a deal with God to do all he can to identify the victim’s killer and in return to have his mother recover. That was an unexpected dimension that I really enjoyed, and it really gave lots of depth to the character of Nico. As an Orthodox believer myself, it was doubly neat to hear about Nico’s Orthodox upbringing and go with him revisit the Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris (founded in 1925). Seriously, I would never have imagined hearing about this awesome place in a thriller/crime fiction!

But if you need a counter-balance, keep in mind that Nico had also to visit gay nightclubs to get clues on the killer! Quite an interesting mix, isn’t it?

And of course you have all the details about the French police system, and the work of each participant, be it the criminal psychologist, the public prosecutor, or the guys in charge of forensics anthropology. Fascinating how much you can learn about a person just by observing his/her bones! The scene of the autopsy was also fascinating, but quite gruesome…

VERDICT: Choosing a famous park in Paris as her setting, famous French writer Frédérique Molay assigns another intriguing crime investigation to chief of police Nico Sirsky. Mix blood, art, and even religion, and you have an irresistible page-turner.


When a major Parisian modern art event gets unexpected attention on live TV, Chief of Police Nico Sirsky and his team of elite crime fighters rush to La Villette park and museum complex. There, renowned artist Samuel Cassian is inaugurating the first archeological dig of modern art, twenty-seven years after burying the leftovers of a banquet. In front of reporters from around the world, excavators uncover a skeleton. Could it be the artist’s own son? And does that death have anything to do with the current string of nightclub murders by the “Paris Butcher”? On the site of the French capital’s former slaughterhouses, the investigation takes Nico and France’s top criminal investigation division from artists’ studios to autopsy theaters and nightclubs in hopes of tracking down the murderer who has turned this Paris park into a city of blood.



Frederique MolayCalled, “the French Michael Connelly,”
Frédérique Molay
graduated from France’s prestigious Science Po
and began her career in politics and the French administration.
She worked as chief of staff for the deputy mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye,
and then was elected to the local government in Saône-et-Loire.
Meanwhile, she spent her nights pursing a passion for writing
she had nourished since she wrote her first novel at the age of eleven.
The first in the Paris Homicide series, The 7th Woman,
won France’s most prestigious crime fiction award
and went on to become an international bestseller,
allowing Molay to dedicate her life to writing and raising her three children.

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Jeffrey Zuckerman was born in the Midwest and lives in New York. He has worked as an editorial assistant, a lifeguard, and a psychology researcher. Now an editor for Music and Literature Magazine, he also freelances for several companies, ranging from the pharmaceutical industry to old-fashioned book publishing. He holds a degree in English with honors from Yale University, where he studied English literature, creative writing, and translation.

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15 thoughts on “Book review and giveaway: The City of Blood – I love France #130

  1. I’m just starting to read the book ‘Arab Jazz’ by Karim Miske, set in the ever-fascinating 19th arrondissement. I’ve heard it will be translated this year – very topical, I guess.


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  6. Hey Emma, what a great idea for a title. The title choice is always a tough one. We were rather certain that our readers would understand the reference to the painting, but it just didn’t have the same ring in English, so we took another path.


    • Thanks. It does make sense for the feel, right. As I’m getting deeper in fiction translation (I’m in my 4th novel), I do realize translating the title is one of the toughest thing to do, but I like the challenge, and sometimes ideas come when you least expect them. The other day, I was just walking around, not at all thinking consciously about my current translation assignment, and boom, something just came banging in my head. The whole experience was actually quite surprising


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