Book review: The Sorbonne Affair

The Sorbonne Affair:
Hugo Marston #7

The Sorbonne Affair

Author: Mark Pryor
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Publication: Aug 22, 2017
Pages: 287
ISBN: 978-1-63388-261-4
paperback, also available as ebook
Genre: Mystery


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Following Hugo Marston in his investigations around Père Lachaise Cemetery, around the booksellers along La Seine, and in the Paris American Library has been a thrill. Now it is a treat to see him at work in a plush hotel in The Sorbonne Affair.

Helen Hancock, an American author, comes to Paris to do research for your next novel and to give a workshop on the art of writing. But she has the feeling someone is stalking her. So she talks to Hugo, head security at the American Embassy to keep an eye and be sure she’s safe.
A few days later, her fears are confirmed: she has found a camera hidden in a painting in her hotel room. She’s afraid somebody may be trying to film and steal her writing.
And then, a member of the hotel staff is found murdered…

Along that main plot another one runs in parallel: before working for the Embassy, Hugo and Tom, his friend, were working for the FBI. Fifteen years earlier, as they were tracking burglars in Houston, they ended up wounding a guy, Cofer, and killing his brother.
Tom has heard that Cofer was paroled, and is now in Paris to take his revenge on Hugo and Tom.
One day, Hugo is struck unconscious just before getting back home…

What’s really going on at the hotel? Is there any connection between the hidden camera and the murder? And Cofer? Who’s after Hugo?
Will he figure things out quick enough before other deaths or even his own?

I thoroughly enjoy this series. Like the previous books, The Sorbonne Affair has a clever plot, with a good dose of suspense, and very down to earth true to life characters.
Besides, the Paris setting is well recreated. Hugo often meets different people in quaint little cafés.
This description page 82 is spot on:

Sorbonne Affair 82

I enjoyed the special style structure used for the chapters related to the Houston affair: each chapter goes back in time, so you get the story backwards. Here is what I mean: the first chapter on this tells you what happened at 4pm, the next one at 3:45, the next at 3:30, etc. A nice way to go back to where it all began.

It was also neat to see Hugo working à la Poirot at the end: he gathers together all the parties involved to reveal who’s the culprit and why.

As one of the main characters is a writer, there are also excellent passages on the art of writing. I particularly enjoyed the passage p. 210 on the difference between plotting and pantsing.

One last word, on the title: good for marketing I guess, but some readers, like me, may be slightly disappointed it does not really refer to what you would expect.

VERDICT:  A thriller with rich layers: a suspenseful and clever investigation, an excellent Paris setting, and great content on the art of writing.


Mark PryorMark Pryor (Austin, TX)
is the author of The Bookseller,
the first Hugo Marston novel,
and the true-crime book As She Lay Sleeping.
A former newspaper reporter from England
and now an assistant district attorney
with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office,
in Austin, Texas,
he is the creator of the true-crime blog DAConfidential.
He has appeared on CBS News’s 48 Hours
and Discovery Channel’s Discovery ID: Cold Blood.

Visit the author’s website. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

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What other good mystery set in a hotel have you read?


In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book for free by the publisher 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.



7 thoughts on “Book review: The Sorbonne Affair

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