The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Peril in Paris…

😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

Jess has left her job in England rather suddenly, and in a way that means it’s advisable that she make herself scarce for a while. So she tells her brother Ben that she is coming to visit him in Paris. However, when she arrives Ben is not there, and no one in the opulent apartment building where he’s been living seems able to tell Jess where he might be. He isn’t replying to texts or phone calls, and when Jess breaks into his apartment she finds his wallet and other items that she would have expected him to take with him had he left voluntarily. All alone in a foreign country, the language of which she doesn’t speak, Jess sets out to find out what can have happened to Ben…

Jess and Ben haven’t been close for years. When they were children, their mother committed suicide and they were taken into care. Ben, good looking, always able to charm people, was quickly adopted while Jess stayed in the care system being passed from foster home to foster home. So Ben was the one who got a good education and all the opportunities in life, while Jess has had to scrabble in a series of no-hope jobs to survive. But Jess still loves her brother and has turned to him for help from time to time. Now it seems that perhaps Ben needs her help for once.

Jess is surprised that Ben can afford to live in an apartment as expensive as this one seems to be, but she soon learns that one of the other tenants, Nick, is a friend of his from his university days and got him in at a reduced rent. All the tenants in the building seem reluctant to talk about Ben and Jess soon comes to suspect that there are some kinds of dynamics going on that she doesn’t understand. And soon she begins to feel threatened, though she can’t quite work out where the threat is coming from…

This is a fast-paced page-turner which I enjoyed considerably more than the only other Foley I’ve read, The Guest List. As usual there’s too much adolescent swearing for my taste, and as well as Anglo-Saxon cursing Foley has clearly googled common French swearwords and shoehorns them in as often as she can. The writing is good, though rather simplistic – there are no great descriptions or evocations of Paris. However, for me that suited the style of story and kept the pace rocketing along. The apartment building itself is very well depicted and has some lovely Gothic touches which help to ramp up the tension.

Lucy Foley

I liked Jess as a character. She’s had a tough life so she doesn’t scare easily and she feels she can take care of herself. She’s a bit out of her depth in this city where she knows no one and doesn’t know whom she can trust, but her love for her brother gives her the courage she needs to keep searching even when things get scary. The other residents of the apartments are an unlikeable bunch, intentionally so, and secrets abound! There are alternating chapters from the viewpoints of several of the characters, and although their voices are not really distinctive enough their personalities and thoughts are, so it’s quickly easy to recognise each of them as the perspective shifts.

The story touches on some serious topics, but lightly – this is an entertainment rather than a preachy “issues” book (hurrah!). The ending, though unlikely, didn’t feel impossible, so my credulity meter stayed in the safety zone and I found it all quite satisfying.

So an entertaining thriller, certainly not cosy, but not too dark and grim either. I raced through it over a couple of days and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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

Amazon UK Link

49 thoughts on “The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

  1. I could do with an ‘entertainment book, so I’m adding this to my want to read list. I have read one of Alice Foley’s books, her first one, The Book of Lost and Found, which I loved. For some unknown reason I’ve never read any more of her books.

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    • I enjoy an occasional page-turner that’s not setting out to be anything more than that. The only other one I’ve read is The Guest List, and while I didn’t dislike it I thought it was pretty average. This one, on the other hand, seemed to me more like an old fashioned mystery with proper suspects and so on, but with very modern characters. If you do read it I hope you enjoy it!

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  2. I don’t think this one is for me, but I have made a note of it as a potential Christmas present for my mum, who I think would love it. If I do end up buying it, I think it will be the third year in a row that I’ve picked my present for her off the basis of one of your reviews! She’s tricky to buy for so I greatly appreciate the help – and buying her present in May would be the most organised that I’ve ever been.

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    • Haha, that makes me feel like a personal shopper! I think this one would be very suitable for a mother, despite the swearing – there’s nothing too horribly graphic in it or unpleasant, particularly. It feels to me in a sense like an old fashioned mystery with proper suspects and so on but with very modern characters. If Santa does bring her it, I hope she enjoys it! 🎅 (Well! That’s the first time I’ve used that emoticon this year! 😉 )

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    • Hahaha, I know! There’s just no telling when I’ll like one of these books! All the author really has to do is stay away from some of the five or six million subjects that annoy me, and everything will be fine… 😉

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    • I didn’t read The Hunting Party, but it sounded very much like The Guest List in style. In this one it feels to me as if she’s tried something different – a more traditional mystery with suspects and so on, but in a modern setting and with very modern characters. I enjoyed it but I often think that that’s got as much to do with my mood as with the books! 😉

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    • It almost feels to me as if she puts the swearing in because she feels it’s obligatory, rather than because the book really requires it. I guess I’m just not of the age group where casual swearing is the norm! But it wasn’t a big enough problem in this one to prevent me enjoying the book overall. A bit of fast paced entertainment never goes wrong!

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      • I’ve seen that with some authors–not just swear words, but violence or even sexual content seems put in for the heck of it. Thinking back to university, there was a little casual swearing that I noticed around by a few people, but it wasn’t the norm, thankfully. Glad that having it in the book didn’t impede your enjoyment of it

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        • In my day, long, long ago, young people tended to swear amongst their own group if they swore at all, but they didn’t swear within their families or in public or in lectures or anything like that. It’s not the swearing, really, that I object to, it’s the assumption that I won’t object to it that I object to, if that makes any sense. When an author chooses to fill her book with swearing then I feel she is being rude to me as the reader, just as I would have felt that any friend who swore in front of my mother would have quickly ceased to be my friend! The same applies, really, when an author assumes that I’ll be fine with lurid sex scenes.

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  3. Very glad you liked this so well, FictionFan. As I think I mentioned to you, I’ve been wondering whether to read this one, as I’ve heard good things about it. And it does sound like an intriguing mystery with some interesting characters, too. I keep wondering about the other people who live in that building… At any rate, it’s good to know this one worked for you. I may have to move it to the wish list, ‘sweariness’ or not…

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    • I do think you might enjoy this one, Margot. In a sense it feels to me more like a traditional mystery than a lot of these contemporary thrillers, in that it’s got proper suspects and so on but in a very modern setting and with modern characters. And the main character Jess is good fun to spend some time with. If you do get to it, I hope it works as well for you as it did for me.

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  4. I was getting ‘The Chateau’ vibes with this one, so was going to give it a miss… especially since I was not a huge fan of The Guest List or The Hunting Party. But it might be plane or beach reading.

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    • Ha! I see what you mean about The Chateau, but in reality the characters in this one are not nearly so superficial and annoying, and they’re not really expats, most of them. I feel as if she’s trying a different style in this one, incorporating a more traditional mystery with suspects and so on – it certainly worked better for me van The Guest Llst, but sometimes I think whether I enjoy these thrillers is as much to do with my mood as the books!

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  5. When you first mentioned the book, I wondered if it would be like the movie THE APARTMENT, starring Jack Lemmon and Fred MacMurray. But based on your review, it seems very different. Glad it entertained you.

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    • Ha. no – this is very definitely thriller/mystery territory! Sometimes a bit of fast-paced entertainment is just what’s required and this fits that bill! 😀

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  6. You’ve convinced me! It’s now tagged in my wishlist at the library… but with almost 200 books tagged there 😱 I make no promises when I’ll get to it. 😂 I noticed the audio version has SIX narrators! 😳

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    • Ha! Six narrators might actually be perfect for it – I’d have to go back and count but there must be about six different viewpoints, although Jess is the main one. And it would probably be quite hard for one narrator to create six different voices! I actually think that sounds like fun and I’m now kind of sorry that I didn’t get the audio book rather than the paper version. There’s only one thing for it – you’ll need to listen to it and tell me how it works! 😉

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    • Hahaha, well, if you read this and then go and visit Paris, you’ll be able to swear at everyone! I thought this was a really good fast paced entertainment that wasn’t trying to be anything more than that. If you get around to reading it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 😀

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  7. I’m glad to hear it’s better than The Guest List. The Hunting Party, which is the only other one of her books I’ve read, was very similar to The Guest List. Maybe I’ll try this one.

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  8. Sounds intriguing. I haven’t read any of her other books, but perhaps this one might make the cut. At least it’s a fast read, judging from your review (and I do like a fast read now and then!)

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    • Sometimes a fast paced entertainment is just what the doctor ordered! If you do decide to try her at some point, this would definitely be the book that I would recommend. I thought it was much better then her last one – it seemed as if she was trying out a different style, and I thought it worked very well.

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  9. I’m trying to figure out how the loving relationship between Jess and Ben would feel believable given their history. Since you didn’t note that as a sticking point, I’m wondering how the author achieves this, given the history between the two. I would think it would foster tremendous resentment, especially since Jess has had to ask for help (something that tends to stoke the fires of resentment). Your thoughts?

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    • I think it was because they didn’t go into the care system as babies. Jess was maybe about nine, and Ben a few years older, so they had had plenty of time to bond as siblings before they were split up. I didn’t actually think it was realistic that the care system would have split them up, but it was necessary for the plot so I let it pass! Foley also didn’t show them as being too close – they just had maintained a sibling bond. But they didn’t really know all that much about each others’ lives, which was why Jess had no idea what may have happened to him. I thought Foley handled it quite well, and once I’d accepted the basic issue of them having been separated at all, then the rest seemed quite credible.

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    • Ha, yes, you’ll definitely learn more about Paris from The Hunchback, especially its architecture! But this one is an entertaining read even if I rather missed seeing the glamorous side of Paris.

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  10. Oh I really like the sounds of this one! that’s funny that this author swears a lot, I feel like i haven’t noticed too many cuss words in books lately, but maybe I’m not sensitive to it? Although it feels like I am. The premise of this disappearing brother in a gothic apartment building sounds really intriguing…

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    • I actually think that it’s a British thing, swearing in books. I notice it much more in British crime fiction and even literary fiction than in any fiction that I read from any other country. I think as with all these fads they all copy each other – they assume that if one book that is full of swearing is a success, then it’s necessary to make every book full of swearing. Quite often it feels false to me (like in this one), as if the author herself, or himself, isn’t particularly comfortable with using these words but feels that he or she must. Very odd!

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    • I wouldn’t let yourself be put off by my grumpiness about swearing – it’s a pet peeve of mine and I often point it out in a review in the hopes that authors will see that not all readers are happy about swearing in books, excessive swearing anyway and in particular the use of the C-word. But this one is no worse than the average contemporary crime thriller. And otherwise I did find it very entertaining – hope you do too!

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