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Death in the City of Light: The Serial…

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris (2011)

by David King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
A very well researched and written book. The level of detail was pretty amazing. However, I did struggle some with the French names - can't change that but it was still difficult for me to keep everyone straight.

Although the amount of detail was great, the book never really created the level of suspense that perhaps I was expecting (or hoping for). Granted, writing a historical record might not always be suspenseful, but it can be done (for example "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr really succeeded in inserting suspense into that historical account). It was never really a "can't put it down" interest. Nonetheless, I am glad that I read the book. ( )
  highlander6022 | Apr 6, 2018 |
Nazis domineering the countries of Europe, and a serial killer wreaking havoc in Paris at the same time.....sounds like fiction, but ohhhhh no. Death In The City of Light is the intricately woven story of Dr. Marcel Petiot- outright sadistic killer , hiding under the guise of being a resistance worker and getting away with outright murder.
Be forewarned....I sped through the first chunk of the book but then found myself getting bogged down in detail. It is a fascinating read but i have to admit to skimming towards the end....
That is what keeps me from rating the book 5 stars. ( )
  lineells | Mar 15, 2018 |
I do not recall ever hearing of Dr. Marcel Petiot before, but I was in a hurry and my feet hurt too much to walk past the non-fiction audio books at my local library to get to the fiction. My eyes spotted the title, Death in the City of Light. This sounded promising to a fan of mysteries and true crime, so I drew it off the shelf. I really liked the cover photograph of a gargoyle looking down on the city and the summary on the back sounded interesting. Did I make a good choice? Oh, yes!

Besides the details of the crimes, the biography of Dr. Petiot, and the trial, I learned about what it was like to live in occupied Paris during World War II. We also get some tidbits about the activities of such notables as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Pablo Picasso during that period.

The very idea of a doctor pretending to arrange escapes for Jews (and others) while actually murdering them and enriching himself with their valuables would have been far more unsettling if I hadn't already read about American serial killer H. H. Holmes. This is still a sickening story.

Fans of Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret series might be interested to know that not only does the author make a cameo appearance in this book, but that the man investigating the crimes, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, was one of the inspirations for Maigret.

Paul Michael's narration was excellent, although I'm not sure that the French accent used for quoting French persons was necessary.

I heartily recommend this book to fans of history, true crime, and World War II. ( )
1 vote JalenV | Feb 23, 2017 |
"The last five years of world war had desensitized many people who had lived through the Holocaust, the ferocious fire-bombing raids, and an array of horrors that left between fifty and sixty million people dead. One of the trial's low points was when Dupin protested that "human life is sacred" and the audience laughed."

Investigating smoke from Dr. Petiot's property, authorities were startled to find discarded German uniforms, suitcases and corpses everywhere. Some bodies were whole, others had been dis-articulated and were stewing in quick lime, others were smoldering in the furnace. Were the victims Gestapo, collaborators, spies or unsavory elements like gangsters and whores? Or, did the Doctor promise rich Jews that he could get them to safety in South America and poison them under the guise of immunization shots, while pocketing the money found hidden in their clothing? Or, was the doctor innocent entirely, framed by the Gestapo while they held him in prison for eight months?

I've read many books about Paris during the Occupation, yet I've never heard of Dr. Petiot. Quite amazing, as his case was on the level of O.J. Simpson-type fame. The chaos of the city at that time was really the perfect opportunity for a killer to operate undetected. And while I do think Dr. Petiot's defense team did bring up salient points in their case about chain-of-evidence, I believe he was guilty. I found myself remarking how similar the case was to modern cases today. We haven't come as far as we think. It was also interesting to learn of the differences between the French legal system and our own. I think this book would appeal most to those who enjoy true crime books other than those who are interested in the WWII genre. ( )
1 vote VictoriaPL | Aug 15, 2016 |
This is a fascinating book in that it is a meticulously researched study of Dr. Marcel Petiot's murderous rampage during the German occupation of Paris, the police chase to find him and then his unusual trial in the French justice system. It is also a social history of Paris under the Nazi boot which was the reason I bought the book.

On March 11, 1944, firemen were called to 22 rue Le Sueur in the 16th arrondissement because thick black smoke had been issuing from the building for five days. When the firemen finally gained entry, they found a human slaughterhouse in the basement with body parts on the floor, some burning in a stove and others covered in lime in a pit in the floor. At this point the book becomes a detective story as Commissaire Geroges-Victor Massu starts unraveling the crime in a most professional manner.

As the case builds against Petiot, we are treated to insights of what it was like for the ordinary citizen of Paris to live and survive during the occupation. We learn most people carried on doing jobs they held before but the shortage of food and supplies often made it difficult so improvisation was the norm. The murders became a distraction for the people knocking the war off the front pages of the press for a period.

The trial took place after the war and it became a bit of a circus with Petiot being the main performer. The author spent a great deal of time collecting data via interviews and searching archives in Paris, Moscow, & the US and it is all documented in the back of the book. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote lamour | Aug 8, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Amis, MartinCover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hudz, TonyDirectorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michael, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zitt, DanExecutive producersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Documents the World War II effort to catch a physician serial killer in Paris, describing the covert information network that the chief French detective built with such groups as mobsters, nightclub owners, and Resistance fighters.

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