The Bones of Paris by Laurie R King

the bones of parisDecadence and darkness…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Published 10th September 2013 in US
and due 30th September 2013 in UK

It’s 1929 and Paris is filled with avant-garde artists leading the bohemian life. So when Harris Stuyvesant, ex-FBI agent turned private investigator, is hired to find a missing young American woman he fully expects to find her so immersed in this exciting world that she’s simply forgotten the folks back home. That is, until he meets Inspector Doucet, a man worried about unsolved disappearances stretching back for years. As Harris plunges into the strange and twisted world of surrealist art, Grand Guinol theatre, decadence and drugs, he begins to realise that the glittering artistic society hides a dark secret…

This is a fairly slow-burn thriller, with the author taking time to build character and give a vivid depiction of bohemian Paris between the wars. The second in a series, it works well as a standalone, although more and more I wished I’d read the first book first. King fills in enough background on the three recurring characters as the book progresses but I found I really wanted to know what had happened in the past to bring them to where they were in this book.

Paris catacombs
Paris catacombs

Stuyvesant is an engaging hero, hard-boiled on the surface but with a soft heart that he sometimes can’t keep hidden. As he becomes attracted to the missing girl’s roommate, his life is complicated when he meets up with the lost love of his life. Sarah is now working as assistant to the Comte de Charmentier, one of the men Stuyvesant suspects knows more about Pip’s disappearance than he’s telling. And as Stuyvesant gradually gets nearer the truth, he realises that Sarah herself may be in danger…

Laurie R King
Laurie R King

King takes us into the world of experimental art and theatre; a world both sensual and disturbing, led by men shaped in part by their experiences of the horrors of war and now stretching the bounds of morality in their lives and their art. King mixes real and fictional characters together so skilfully that this reader was never sure where the dividing line was, and I found her picture of this selfish and self-absorbed society completely convincing. The story is often macabre, sometimes gruesome, but always compelling. Highly recommended, though I would suggest it’s probably better to read them in order – I have added the first book, Touchstone, to my own TBR list and will be intrigued to see where King takes her characters in future books.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

38 thoughts on “The Bones of Paris by Laurie R King

  1. When I saw the name “Laurie R King” a brain-cell kicked in. I knew that I had not read this book’s predecessor but I have (of course!) read her “Mary Russell” series, which are Sherlock Holmes pastiches and are excellent. So I shall certainly look out for these two – not on Kindle yet tho’.

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      • No,no,no,no,no……… Not really an “assistant”, more of an apprentice. Holmes is old and Mary is very young (fifteen in the first book) and most importantly, not a pseudo- Watson. If you ever run out of books (!?!), give these a go.

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  2. FictionFan – King is really talented, and one of her skills is creating an atmosphere that reflects the historical era. I shall definitely have to try this one.

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  3. You may not warm to her Mary Russell books (and I have toadmit that the novelty has worn off where I’m concerned) but I did enjoy her Kate Martinelli books set in modern day California. I’ve not tried ‘Touchstone’ but might give it a go and then look at this one if the former takes my fancy.

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  4. Hmm I’m afraid this got (or will, when it’s released and i can do the Amazon thingy) the thumbs down, big time from me – and that was because of the ‘let’s abuse a real character now they are dead and can’t answer back’ I agree, a selfish and self-obsessed world, but it wasn’t good enough to make some pretty heinous accusations against one of the artists of the time and then write a limp disclaimer in the afterword saying ‘there is no reason to suspect (name) of anything but his genius. Had he been alive, no doubt she would have found herself in court on a libel action. I have no idea whether he had heirs (possibly not, else no doubt they might so respond!)

    THAT has put me right off Laurie R King – travestying a fictional character by giving him a female assistant is completely forgiveable, in my book, by comparison! Hrrrrrrrrrrumph!

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    • I have an unbreakable rule about Holmes pastiches – no women!! Well, they can be the client or the victim, but not the assistant or…gulp…the love interest!

      This one really is good though – but I’d definitely recommend starting with the first one.

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  5. I’ve read the Mary Russell series and enjoyed them. That era in Paris is a fascinating setting. I’ll have to give it a read and recommend it to my Francophile friends 🙂

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    • I’ve steered clear of the Mary Russell books on the grounds that a female working with Holmes is sacriligeous! But the fact that I enjoyed this one so much is making me wonder if I should reconsider…

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