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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.
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…
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.