Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: The Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King

The Bones of Paris
by Laurie R. King

Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Historical Fiction / Elements of Horror

Ages: 17 and up

This is a sequel to Touchstone.

I received an advance e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King, beloved for her acclaimed Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, consistently writes richly detailed and thoroughly suspenseful novels that bring a distant time and place to brilliant life. Now, in this thrilling new book, King leads readers into the vibrant and sensual Paris of the Jazz Age—and reveals the darkest secrets of its denizens.
Paris, France: September 1929. For Harris Stuyvesant, the assignment is a private investigator’s dream—he’s getting paid to troll the cafés and bars of Montparnasse, looking for a pretty young woman. The American agent has a healthy appreciation for la vie de bohème, despite having worked for years at the U.S. Bureau of Investigation. The missing person in question is Philippa Crosby, a twenty-two year old from Boston who has been living in Paris, modeling and acting. Her family became alarmed when she stopped all communications, and Stuyvesant agreed to track her down. He wholly expects to find her in the arms of some up-and-coming artist, perhaps experimenting with the decadent lifestyle that is suddenly available on every rue and boulevard.

As Stuyvesant follows Philippa’s trail through the expatriate community of artists and writers, he finds that she is known to many of its famous—and infamous—inhabitants, from Shakespeare and Company’s Sylvia Beach to Ernest Hemingway to the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. But when the evidence leads Stuyvesant to the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, his investigation takes a sharp, disturbing turn. At the Grand-Guignol, murder, insanity, and sexual perversion are all staged to shocking, brutal effect: depravity as art, savage human nature on stage.

Soon it becomes clear that one missing girl is a drop in the bucket. Here, amid the glittering lights of the cabarets, hides a monster whose artistic coup de grâce is to be rendered in blood. And Stuyvesant will have to descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer . . . sifting through The Bones of Paris.

My Thoughts:

It has been three years since the events of Touchstone, and Harris Stuyvesant is a little harder, a little more cynical and more than a little bit lost. He's survived on odd jobs and meaningless affairs since he gave up investigating and was given up by Sarah Grey. Now, however, he has a case that will challenge his somewhat aimless existence and bring him face to face with the ghosts of his past.

As he searches for a missing girl, Stuyvesant finds himself plumbing the most Stygian depths of Paris. Even his jaded eyes are surprised by the deeply disturbing and peculiarly sensual world he discovers. I was surprised and disturbed as well, yet could not look away. The rich and eerie descriptions were as revolting as they were compelling, sending shivers down my spine. It is a no-holds-barred exploration of some of the strangest artistic minds of the time. This is not a book for the faint of heart.

Despite the relentlessly macabre displays that take up so much of this novel, I did enjoy it a great deal. The writing was flawless, the mystery was fascinating and original, and I liked seeing Stuyvesant, Bennett and Sarah again. Of the three, Sarah has changed the most. She is, understandably, not so exuberant as before and a good deal stronger. However, she is still drawn to dangerous friendships and continues to have excellent taste in her romantic attachments.

There were some interesting new characters introduced, which almost made up for the fact that Bennett was hardly in most of the book. I especially liked Doucet and Nancy; a determined French cop and the very straightforward room-mate of Philippa Crosby, the girl Stuyvesant is attempting to find. Then there is the shudder-inducing Didi Moreau and the sophisticated, multi-layered Dominic Charmentier. Each new character is utterly unique in their own ways and completely unforgettable.

If you enjoyed Touchstone, you will enjoy The Bones of Paris. It has all the things that made the previous novel great as well as several memorable new additions. I would recommend it to those who enjoy the darkest of mysteries and gothic horror.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it a 6.10 for a couple of uses of the f-word as well as some mild to mid-level swearing.

I give it a 6.10 for a couple of fade-aways, some disturbing references, pornography and a pervading sensual vibe.

I rate it a 7.10 for murder, attempted murder, suicide and some very disturbing theater productions.

                          Lieder Madchen

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