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The First Hugo Marston Novel
by Mark Pryor
Publication Date: 2012
by Seventh Street Books
Paperback • EbookSource: Received from the publisher
This book counts for the
following Reading Challenges
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
If you have had the opportunity to visit Paris, I would bet one of your favorite spots is the row of bouquinistes along La Seine. Now imagine a mystery centered on these book stalls. How cool is that! With ample suspense and great characters, I could not pass the opportunity to present to you The Bookseller.
Hugo Marston, a former member of the FBI, is now security chief at the US embassy in Paris. One day, he goes to meet Max, his favorite bouquiniste and friend, at his book stall along La Seine, to buy books for gifts. He ends up witnessing him being kidnapped and taken God knows where on the river. When he reports the fact to French police and detectives, they don’t show much interest and quickly consider the thing as a hoax or a mistake. But Hugo knows what he saw, so he asks help from his friend Tom, CIA, and Claudia, a journalist he just met, whose current reports focus on drug dealers in Paris.
With his geeky friend Tom, Hugo discovers Max’s mysterious past as a Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter. So was his kidnapping related to some old revenge or to the expensive books he sold? Indeed, Hugo discovers that a book he just bought is worth big big bucks.
Meeting shady characters, dirty cops, and discovering surprising connections, Hugo will try to unravel what’s going on. Will he be able to discover the truth in time to save Max and other bouquinistes also in danger? Or even his own skin, as he realizes he is being followed?
I really enjoyed the suspense and the red herrings in this book, on the background of the Parisian bouquinistes. Chapter 6 provides fascinating elements of their history, when they started, how regulated their world is still today.
I like Hugo’s personality, persevering, never ready to give up even when clearly in danger.
And when Hugo meets Claudia, I started having all kinds of questions about her and her family. Who is she? What does she want? Is she really a help or a danger to Hugo? I flinched when I saw him falling seemingly so easily into the trap…
The plot was very smart and the idea behind the book original, but who knows, could this be something really happening these days in Paris? I would actually not be surprised. Read the book and tell me what you think!
There are also neat passages on books and on Paris:
…books, their colorful spines like the feathers of a bird fanned out on the shelves to attract passersby.
Outside the car’s window Paris flashed by, the sluggish river Seine appearing and disappearing beside them, seeming to slow their progress with her magnetic pull, a seductress winking through the plane trees, teasing them with glimpses of her silvery skirts, and with the threat of more death, more bodies hidden within their deadly folds.
VERDICT: Great mystery among the Parisian bouquinistes. Highly recommended for lovers of Paris, suspense, and books.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
Max—an elderly Paris bookstall owner—is abducted at gunpoint. His friend, Hugo Marston, head of security at the US embassy, looks on helplessly, powerless to do anything to stop the kidnapper.
Marston launches a search, enlisting the help of semiretired CIA agent Tom Green. Their investigation reveals that Max was a Holocaust survivor and later became a Nazi hunter. Is his disappearance somehow tied to his grim history, or even to the mysterious old books he sold?
On the streets of Paris, tensions are rising as rival drug gangs engage in violent turf wars. Before long, other booksellers start to disappear, their bodies found floating in the Seine. Though the police are not interested in his opinion, Marston is convinced the hostilities have something to do with the murders of these bouquinistes.
Then he himself becomes a target of the unknown assassins.
With Tom by his side, Marston finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together, connecting the past with the present and leading the two men, quite literally, to the enemy’s lair.
Just as the killer intended.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Pryor (Austin, TX)
is an assistant district attorney
with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office,
in Austin, Texas.
He is the creator of the true-crime blog D.A. Confidential.
He has appeared on CBS News’s 48 Hours
and Discovery Channel’s Discovery ID: Cold Blood.
This is his first mystery novel.
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
What other good mystery involving books or booksellers
would you recommend?
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